Our Story

Our Story

Goodness in Your Cup of Tea

Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando had a unique vision - he wanted to offer consumers the finest tea on earth and to do so with ethics and integrity. That pledge is fulfilled in our commitment to garden fresh, unblended tea of the finest quality. Our Founder’s intention to make his tea ethical, is honoured in the work of his MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. In making our business a matter of human service, the natural goodness in every cup of Dilmah is extended by the positive humanitarian and environmental impact Dilmah has on communities and ecosystems.

Founder message

‘I DEVOTED MY LIFE TO TEA’

“The story of my Dilmah began in 1988. I was then a small tea grower with big dreams, I wanted to bring my country’s tea – the finest in the world – garden fresh and ethically produced, direct to tea lovers around the world. I had to compete with giant multinational brands; many said that mine was an impossible dream. But loyal tea drinkers around the world have made my dream a reality. Today, two and a half decades later, my sons Dilhan and Malik have joined me in my mission. My vision is to bring you tea of the highest quality. Tea that is fresh – rich in flavour and natural goodness – and at the same time to give workers and my country a fairer deal. I pledged to make my business a matter of human service.”

Dilmah Family

The story of the Dilmah family starts with its founder Merrill J. Fernando. It’s a story that impresses and inspires, encourages and heartens: a story of determination and tenacity, of unfailing vision and unwavering focus of one man who, 48%against all the odds, found a way of changing an industry and improving thousands of lives. Despite its credentials as a global giant in the tea industry, Dilmah remains a family concern where the traditions and guiding principles are handed down from generation to generation.

Merrill and his two sons, Dilhan and Malik, consistently deliver on their commitment to sharing the finest and most authentic cup of Ceylon tea, while being true to their very strongly-held principles of doing business as a matter of human service. At the inception of Dilmah Tea the Dilmah family pledged to follow the principles crystallised in the ‘Six Pillars of Dilmah’ in every aspect of their business. The Six Pillars are Quality, Tradition, Ethics, Our Customer, Integrity and Sustainability. This personal commitment is the Dilmah difference Step into the world of Dilmah and experience how this commitment touches lives of many – including yours; because a cup of tea is a cup of love, of kindness, of solace, of wisdom. Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s start a conversation.

Dilmah Tea Gardens

Dilmah is the only vertically integrated global tea brand today. It means we know where our tea comes from, how exactly it is crafted and every minute detail of the tea that is picked, produced and packed. Why is this important? Simply because it allows us to keep the Dilmah promise of quality, authenticity and freshness, from the tea garden to the cup. It also ensures that the tea we offer is grown and produced with utmost respect to the environment and those who work in our plantations and their families are looked after. Read more..

Our Core Commitment to Sustainability

Dilmah owes its success to the quality of Ceylon Tea. Our business was founded therefore on an enduring connection to the land and the communities in which we operate. We have pioneered a comprehensive commitment to minimising our impact on the planet, fostering respect for the environment and ensuring its protection by encouraging a harmonious coexistence of man and nature. We believe that conservation is ultimately about people and the future of the human race, that efforts in conservation have associated human wellbeing and poverty reduction outcomes. These core values allow us to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations of sustainability.

The promise made by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando that business should be a matter of human service, where the profits accrued are used for the benefit of people and the environment that they depend on, are deeply ingrained in the work of Dilmah Conservation. Since then, Dilmah Conservation has engaged in promoting sustainable environmental and social development initiatives gearing towards mainstreaming sustainability, encouraging research, conserving and protecting Sri Lanka’s wealth of biodiversity, habitat and ecosystem restoration, empowering indigenous communities, endorsing sustainable livelihoods, and supporting environmental and nature educatio. Read more..

Family values – Business is a matter of human service

The philosophy that drives every facet of the family brand is one of making business a matter of human service. That is a covenant that Merrill entered into with his consumers in the 1950s when he first set out to achieve his dream. Merrill’s pledge is fulfilled today by the MJF Charitable Foundation. Funded by the Dilmah Family and revenue from sales of Dilmah, the MJF Foundation designs, funds and implements over 100 projects each year. The Foundation has changed the lives of over 100,000 people each year through education, housing, welfare and empowerment programmes. Its schools offer education, scholarships and care to over 6,500 children and the Foundation’s Small Entrepreneur Programme has been hailed as an example of empowerment with dignity.

Our health, education and infrastructure projects benefited 15,000 plantation families.Together we have brought a smile to 23,500 children, who were cared for at the Child Development Centres in our plantations. The Foundation awarded educational scholarships to 246 students from the plantations. Livelihood assistance was provided to 200 families including 357 war widows in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka.

Over 1400 individuals were supported through the Small Entrepreneur Programme to establish themselves in a suitable livelihood. It supported 1,000 kids through holistic development programmes conducted via the MJF Kids Programmes islandwide. Software training was given to 500 children and young adults from marginalised communities. Over 150 differently abled children were provided with special education, therapy and training. Over 40 women empowered through the recently initiated Women’s Development Programme. The MJF Charitable Foundation has changed the lives of over a 100,000 underprivileged people. Read more..

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