For a business, just giving back is not good enough. Unplanned aid creates dependency and as we have seen in the aftermath of many disasters, poorly conceived help can make a bad situation worse. That is where businesses have a special role to play.' said Dilhan C. Fernando, younger son of Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando addressing the Rotary South Asia Summit which concluded in Hyderabad, recently.

Dilhan was elaborating on 'Giving Back' and sharing the unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service, with a distinguished group of attendees during the Summit held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre, India's most advanced convention venue. He was part of a group of distinguished speakers which included the Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF Stephen Adkisson, Vijay Chadda, the CEO of the Bharati Foundation, film actress and activist Shabana Azmi and Shamsh Kassim Lakha the founding president of the Aga Khan University.
Dilhan shared the success of the Small Entrepreneur Programme of Dilmah which was set up in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami to provide assistance to those who were affected. He said 'It (S.E.P.) emphasised empowerment of the recipient without compromising his or her dignity. Adopting an unconventional approach we were able ' within days ' to seed hope in communities that seemed hopeless after the waves.' The S.E.P. recipients were provided with support in the form of equipment and or raw material, to enable them to embark on their own. He emphasised that the S.E.P. is based on a very business-like approach where every problem has a solution which must be designed and implemented in the most efficient manner with the most effective outcome.
He also discussed conventional attitude towards corporate social responsibility which governs many businesses where CSR is treated as an extension of the business that would create better business opportunities for the company. 'Giving back is an obligation. Doing so in expectation of direct return compromises the effectiveness of giving ' it is then simply another form of advertising' he said. 'Making profit is another, but not profit at any cost - profit tempered by genuine consideration of the human and environmental impacts of business and its context. For a sustainable world, business must give back, must be a matter of human service' were his concluding remarks.

The MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation were established by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando to fulfill the pledge to make his family business a matter of human service. Earnings from the sale of Dilmah tea in over 100 countries around the world have today magnified his simple but effective vision.

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