Sri Lanka’s Mr. Dilmah, celebrates 71 years of brewing cups of kindness
The unmistakable face of the Sri Lankan family tea company Dilmah, is Merrill J. Fernando, and his invitation to customers – ‘do try it!’. The first tea grower to offer his tea to the world – picked, perfected, packed at source – and kindness was his cup of tea. The family tea business he formed around an uncompromising commitment to Taste, Goodness & Ethical Purpose offers a playbook for business in a post pandemic era. Faith, determination, dedication to taste, goodness, and ethical purpose characterize the Ceylon Teamaker’s story as he turns 91, and celebrates 71 years in tea.
Milestones are important. They chart one’s progress, whether success or failure. Merrill J. Fernando, the founder of Dilmah, entered the tea trade in 1950, as one of a batch of five local youth to be trained in the art of tea tasting, then the preserve of the British. Despite the unshakeable self-belief that has taken him to his present eminence in the industry, even he would not have imagined the varied successes that he would eventually garner.
Dilmah is, undeniably, the global face of Ceylon tea. The brand, with the image of its founder, has carried the message of the purity and authenticity of Ceylon tea to over a hundred countries in the world. However, it is not only in the promotion of the product that Fernando has made his contribution. Over the years he has lent his weight to many initiatives that have benefited the industry and Ceylon tea in its totality.
In the early years, he championed several initiatives which created facilitations and remedied inequalities which hampered the local exporter of value added tea. The tea industry then represented a long value chain, stretching from the local plantation to the retail market overseas, designed for the benefit of the British, allied multinationals and their local associates. He was successful in interposing his authority on this tightly closed system, with a mixture of guile, confrontation and leverage of influence, for the benefit of the local entrepreneur.
The conversion of many traditional Orthodox Tea factories to the more industrial CTC manufacture, in an uncritical emulation of the Kenyan model, would have become a reality decades ago, if not for his reasoned but unrelenting opposition. Had that proposal been implemented, the diversity of Ceylon tea, its uniqueness, would have been obliterated by the depressing sameness of a mass-market product without individuality.
Similarly, the more recent effort to import cheap tea for blending and re-export, the “Tea Hub” concept, proposed by exporters who were prepared to sacrifice the singularity of Pure Ceylon Tea, in favour of short-term profit and denial of long-term damage, would have been launched if not for Merrill Fernando’s fierce opposition. His was the lone voice raised against this scheme which, had it been implemented, would have temporarily enriched a few but impoverished the hundreds of thousands of producers.
Merrill embodies the philosophy he has always advocated, focusing on the significance that lies beyond success. His desire to share his profits has made an unquantifiable and lasting contribution to his community and beyond. In less fortunate communities in his own country and overseas, thousands of lives have been touched by the initiatives of the Merrill J Fernando Charitable Foundation – all funded by the profits of Dilmah tea. The Foundations’ guiding principle of empowerment with dignity underlines its Settlor’s wish to genuinely & positively impact people.
Then there are the multitude of biodiversity conservation, restoration, environmental education & research initiatives of Dilmah Conservation, again endowed by the profits from tea. As the passionate Teaman celebrates his 91st birthday, his commitment is undimmed. In a corruptible and acquisitive society it is rarely that a successful businessman also becomes a force for the common good. Merrill J Fernando is clearly one of the very few exceptions.
Top SL business leaders panelist at UN Global Compact Summit 2021
Sri Lanka co-hosts three sessions
More than 20,000 leaders from business, government, the UN, and civil society will gather for the UN’s largest corporate sustainability event to elevate ambition for strategic collective action to get back on track after the pandemic and rebuild a just, equitable and resilient society.
The United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit on 15-16 June will convene Heads of State, CEOs of major corporations and UN leaders to address the converging global crises of climate change, the Covid-19 global pandemic, worsening social and economic inequality and unchecked corruption in order to offer a roadmap for a sustainable recovery.
Confirmed speakers include the President of Singapore, H.E. Halimah Yacob; Prime Minister of Jamaica, H.E. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Kim Boo-kyum; UN Secretary-General António Guterres; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed; President of COP26, Alok Sharma; the UK’s High-Level Climate Champion Nigel Topping; Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Sharan Burrow, Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation and Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
Over 26 hours of continuous virtual programming, speakers and guests from 69 Global Compact Local Networks will discuss responsible business practices through the lens of pressing issues such as the state of sustainability; credible climate action; tackling corruption through collective action; decent work and ensuring living wages; accelerating women’s leadership and bringing innovative sustainable investment instruments to market.
The UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka will be co-hosting three sessions. The first session, Network Sri Lanka has joined forces with Networks Mexico, United Kingdom and Turkey to host the “Responsible Business: Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace” on the 15th June 2021 at 10.45pm to 11.30pm (IST) featuring Ms. Sharmila Sherikar, Senior Vice President – Talent Management Head – Americas Business, Virtusa.
Additionally, the second session, Network Sri Lanka will host the session titled “Sustainable Manufacturing for an Equitable Future” at the Virtual Leaders Summit, on the 16th of June 2021 from 8.15am to 9.00am (IST). Sri Lanka, as one of the fastest growing markets in the world, possesses abundant opportunities and fascinating approaches to cross-cutting the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Manufacturing seeks to replace an unsustainable economic development model with socially and environmentally responsible practices that consume minimal resources. Sustainable Manufacturing involves total life-cycle considerations when developing products which are both economically sound and socially beneficial.
The panelists for the Sri Lanka Network session are Dilhan Fernando – CEO of Dilmah Tea and Chairman of the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka, Hajar Alafifi – Chairperson and Managing Director, Unilever Sri Lanka, Dr. Rohan Fernando – Managing Director, Aitken Spence Plantations Managements PLC and Executive Director, Aitken Spence PLC, Shakthi Ranatunga – Chief Operations Officer, MAS Holdings; Rajitha Kariyawasam – Managing Director, Haycarb PLC & Eco Solutions and Deputy Chairman, Dipped Products PLC (Hayleys Group)
Furthermore, for the third session, Network Sri Lanka has partnered with Networks Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan to host “Towards Economic Prosperity: Perspectives from South Asia” on the 16th June 2021 at 9.30am to 10.30am featuring Mr. Krishan Balendra, Chairman – John Keells Holdings
Other high-level Summit speakers include comedian and producer Larry Whitmore; Manish Bapta, Interim President and CEO, World Resources Institute; Can Çaka, CEO, Anadolu Efes; Li Zhenguo, Founder & President, LONGi Green Energy Technology Co; Marjorie Yang, Chairman and CEO, Esquel Group; Victoria Yarmoshchuku, CEO and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation.
Please register online for the sessions via https://shor.by/chTn
Sri Lanka Insurance Shines at “Brand Finance Most Valuable Brands 2021”
Sri Lanka Insurance tops the ranking in many aspects in the recently published Brand Finance report on Sri Lanka’s Most Valuable Brands 2021 edition. Sri Lanka Insurance tops the list as The Most Loved Insurance Brand of the Year and the Most Valuable General Insurance Brand of the year. Sri Lanka Insurance is moving forward proving it’s prowess to be awarded these prestigious titles for the 4th consecutive year.
Sri Lanka Insurance was established in 1962, with the aim in taking the message of protection through Insurance to every corner of the nation, and to date the company has focused on this core element of providing protection for all.
During the year 2020 Sri Lanka Insurance has been in the forefront in aiding and supporting Covid relief initiatives. Sri Lanka Insurance donated Rs 5 Million to the Covid relief fund, donation of 10,000 number of 200 ml sanitizer bottles to the Special Task Force carrying out necessary pandemic control measures, launched Viru Abhiman – the Rs. 1.5 million worth free life cover granted to the state sector employees who are in the frontline battling Covid 19 pandemic during 2020, the donation of facemasks, hand sanitizers, surface disinfectants distributed among Municipal Councils, Provincial Councils and Town Councils and necessary government entities just before the lockdown ended giving all the assurance that their offices are risk-free places to return.
The Company also adopted easy payment schemes and concessions on premium payments to ease the customers during these trying times. Sri Lanka Insurance mandate goes beyond Insurance, It is to provide protection to the people of this nation at times of catastrophe.
Leading the General Insurance Market with a 20.3% Market share, SLIC General Category recorded a staggering Rs 20.1 Billion in Gross Written premium in 2020, an unmatchable monthly claim settlements amounting to Rs. 665 Million and a Rs 7.9 Billion per annum is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s No 1 General Insurance brand.
AIA’s new ‘MyPos’ redefines the way agents do business
AIA Insurance has revolutionised the way agents interact with customers, through yet another breakthrough in digital innovation; Introducing the all new AIA MyPoS; a cutting-edge solution designed to give AIA Wealth Planners and Bancassurance Executives everything they need to make a sale, in a single app.
This all new MyPoS, which is based on much research and the experience of AIA’s distribution excellence across Asia has completely changed the paradigm. To start with it has introduced a much deeper needs analysis tool, which engages the customer, provides insights into their financial and insurance needs and lets AIA’s Wealth Planners and Banca Executives provide advanced life, health and protection solutions in simple, easy terms, in the new MyPos, which operates on the Android and IOS platforms. It generates insurance quotes and enables comparisons, real time, while AIA’s distribution engages with their prospective customers. The entire process from lead generation to prospecting and proposing a product has been seamlessly integrated along with an underwriting rules-based engine to enable straight through processing of a large portion of policies. In a large percentage of cases, policies that are entered through MyPos, can be issued within 24 hours with minimal human interventions, thus making the experience for the customer easy and improving the productivity of AIA’s distribution team significantly.
This is a pioneering effort in digital transformation by AIA to make the insurance business faster, easier, more precise and more efficient. D J Weeratunge one of AIA’s Business Development Managers explained, “the new MyPos has significantly reduced the time it takes to canvass new business, thereby enabling me to be far more productive than I could have imagined! My interactions with customers are much smoother now and the customers really do seem to appreciate that we respect their time and address their requirements real time.” He added, “Our main goal is to make it convenient for customers to do business with us and this new MyPos is a revolutionary tool that allows us to do just that. My experience with it has been very positive and I am happy to see AIA leverage on innovatory digital assets to enhance our customer’s experience.”
K P Sooriyarachchi, an AIA Wealth Planner said, “the new MyPos has made our lives so much easier. Everything we need when approaching a potential customer is at our fingertips in one easy to use, integrated system and it really does help us to offer personalised and customized service to our customers to best suit their needs.”
AIA’s Deputy CEO and Chief Agency Officer Upul Wijesinghe noted “this cutting-edge solution is a result of our commitment as a company to accelerate innovation and drive digital adoption while simplifying the process of insurance sales. We are constantly striving to make our internal processes faster and better and also to ensure that the customer’s buying and onboarding journey is made easier. The convergence of human and digital has the potential to transform the business of insurance and that’s exactly what this new MyPoS does. Putting this new and upgraded digital tool in the hands of our Wealth Planners empowers them to provide superlative service to our customers through a seamless sales journey across channels.”
AIA’s Chief Technology Officer Umeshi de Fonseka added “This is a world class tool, which is used in many other AIA business units and we’ve acclimatized it for the Sri Lankan market to ensure that our customers and Wealth Planners benefit from the best practices. At AIA, we believe digital transformation to be the key enabler in our quest towards being the #1 insurer in Sri Lanka. AIA’s MyPoS is the latest addition to our portfolio that uses next generation platforms with human centric design principles for ease of use. It is a fully integrated tri-lingual platform, which seamlessly integrates with the core system, workflows, documents management and payments as well the AIA customer portal. It facilitates automated underwriting, real-time analytics, dashboards to monitor progress of Wealth Planners and has advanced financial need analysers with predictive features. It also has offline functionality making it accessible to all corners of the country and has set a new and risen benchmark for the industry and simplified insurance disruption.”
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