Starting a business is always a daunting task for any entrepreneur. For Eranda Aberathna, Managing Director U.H.E. Exports (Pvt) Ltd, success comes from the courage to dream big.
Launching the company just three and a half years ago with only himself and a graduate-assistant, he was eager to prove the potential he saw in a niche tea market. Today with over 30 employees Eranda has through innovation, hard work, dedication and an unflagging entrepreneurial spirit built a successful and thriving business that has become a leading light nationally, challenging the status quo.
Celebrating his achievements and inspirational entrepreneurial journey, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka recently presented Eranda the prestigious ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2017’ – National Winner, as well as the ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2017’ for the Uva Province.
Reminiscing on the early days, Eranda said, “Despite having the opportunity to join the family-owned business I decided to start my own company. Venturing into an industry which has reached maturity, we felt like a tear drop in the ocean but soon realised focusing on large quantities would not bring us success especially for a start-up. After continuous research and hard work we found a niche market and focused all our efforts to grow this opportunity.”
“Today as a result, the company has grown exponentially from a small start up to a large scale company within three and a half years– even when the market for Ceylon tea has witnessed a decline. Additionally, we have been able to strategically create new opportunities in a highly competitive environment while achieving patents and industrial design certifications,” he added.
Today, Halpé Tea, under the guidance and leadership of Eranda, is among the very few manufacturer-exporter entities in Sri Lanka, who produces and directly exports premium factory-fresh single origin teas.
In 2016, Halpe´ Tea won an impressive five National Gold Awards at the ‘National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) Awards’ and one Silver for Most Innovative Exporter earning the mantle as the most awarded Ceylon tea company for the year.
Commenting on this exceptional achievement Eranda said, “We continue to trail blaze in the tea export arena, seeking new opportunities within the Ceylon tea industry. We are strongly committed towards research and development and have been able to accomplish several patents and industrial design certifications within a very short time. Our hard work was appreciated when we were presented the overall Silver award for the Most Innovative Exporter in Sri Lanka and five National exports awards showcasing our continued commitment.”
UHE Exports’ Halpé Tea is distributed to major world tea markets in the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, China,France and other European countries. The company has an office in Kuwait focusing on the Gulf and Middle-eastern markets.
Despite having a deep-rooted involvement in the industry as a result of his family-owned tea and leisure businesses, Eranda has not rested on his family’s laurels.
The company has also expanded its operations through a Halpé Tea airport outlet. This achievement showcases his entrepreneurial character as only six tea companies can represent Ceylon tea in the airport.
Additionally, the launch of the ‘Ceylon Tea Supermarket’ in the heart of Colombo catering to local and overseas visitors who seek a unique tea experience in another significant milestone.
Tea lovers and connoisseurs can also experience the brand through the HalpéTea Center in Kandy, the Halpé Tea Center and Restaurant in Ella and other island-wide outlets including the more renowned ones such as the Sri Lanka Tea Board, Odel Ward Place, Legends etc,.
While forging ahead, Eranda is conscious of the importance of giving back to the community. Since the company was founded, an annual event has been the provision of dry rations to needy communities in rural areas of the country. Many communities have benefited and grown along with the company’s success through the provision of jobs for employees, providing assistance to needy families, the construction of homes, contributing to flood affected families countrywide etc,.
“We started as a small scale company and have now grown to over Rs100 million turnover within three and a half years. Our suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders in our value chain have also grown and achieved success together with us. The nation too benefits as we continue onward in our entrepreneurial journey,” Eranda concluded.