The Early Years of Sukanto Tanoto – Paving the Path to Greatness

Sukanto Tanoto, currently one of the most well-known, richest and respected business leaders in Indonesia, has started out in life in a volatile time, when the country was still fighting for its independence and life for most Indonesians – most especially Chinese immigrants – was extremely hard.

Young Sukanto quickly learned the basic lessons about the value of hard work, the many traits of the people he and his parents would meet on their journey through life and the numerous challenges associated with maintaining a successful business and good grades in school all at the same time.

A Difficult Time for Indonesians

On December the 25th, 1949, a young boy named Sukanto Tanoto was born in Belawan, Indonesia, to parents of Chinese descent who migrated to Indonesia in the early 1900s, from the Fijian province of China known as Putien.

Only 4 years after the end of World War II, this was an extremely difficult time for all Indonesians, with uprisings and guerilla wars spawned from a difficult fight for independence, which the young country obtained shortly after Sukanto Tanoto – the eldest of 7 brothers – was born.

His early childhood was marked by the problems associated with the fact that Sukanto was of Chinese descent, so from the start, he could not be enrolled in a regular public school. Combined with lacking infrastructure and large distances that had to be covered to even reach the school, this had a profound impact on the young boy, who quickly learned that he had to adapt to his surroundings if he hoped to achieve his dreams someday.

Balancing Work and School

If we think life is difficult today, Sukanto Tanoto’s early years should definitely serve as a source of inspiration for how someone can beat the odds, despite so many obstacles and difficulties.

A typical day in the life of Sukanto Tanoto began with an active morning in which he would help his mother at home with his 6 younger brothers, then head out to help his father at a gas station and a small shop. It was tedious work that had to be done by hand, the most difficult of which was pushing heavy barrels of oil and diesel into place – a task that was naturally extremely challenging for a young boy.

While school work was less physically challenging, young Mr. Tanoto also had to endure a bumpy one-and-a-half-hour bus ride to get to school. Undeterred by the lack of comfort and the heat that often accompanied the journey (there was no AC back then), Sukanto Tanoto diligently prepared for his lessons on the bus trip, determined not to waste any of his precious time and to try to profit as much as possible from the education that he was provided.

The Many Lessons of a Difficult Childhood

Young Sukanto Tanoto learned from an early age how valuable hard work, determination and understanding can be when it comes to achieving success in life and being able to help those around him.

Unlike in the case of most children, however, most of his lessons didn’t came from school books – although he certainly learned that it is best to retain as much as that knowledge as possible too – but from working at his parents’ part shop and gas station.

He quickly picked up the basics of how business works and learned from the hard work he put into pushing barrels, cleaning and doing chores, that persistence and discipline are vital for good results.

The most valuable lessons, however, were those learned about the many different types of people who would travel through the transient town and become their clients, learning how to identify customers who were honest or not.

This is how, even at an early age, Sukanto Tanoto learned some of the most important basics of business, as well as its close relation to life as a whole and the importance of a closely connected community.

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Growing Crops, Growing the Community: Sukanto Tanoto Empowers Locals with Community Programmes

Sukanto Tanoto, the 68 year old entrepreneur, is self-assured and masterful in his ways. It is a manner he has had to have; 50 years in the business dictated so. Starting out as a 17 year-old when he first took over his father’s spare parts business, Sukanto Tanoto’s grit, decisiveness, and confidence have been integral to his success. Today Sukanto Tanoto is chairman of the global resources giant that is RGE, a company that he founded, which manages various other resource-based businesses such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. Very much a self-made man, the business veteran has built in 50 years an awe-inspiring empire, a name, and a legacy for the Tanoto family.

More than a businessman: Sukanto Tanoto, the man with a heart

Growing Crops, Growing the Community: Sukanto Tanoto empowers locals with Community Programmes

Like most people, Sukanto Tanoto is very much a product of his circumstances. Moulded by the years of success, failures, and hurdles, he had to be adapatable, yet firm in his own beliefs. Belying the magisterial demeanour that Sukanto Tanoto exudes, is a genteelness and warmth often disassociated; therein lies the core of his person and work. He has conducted the entire spectrum of businesses according to his principle of the 5Cs, to create good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customers, and Company. Sukanto Tanoto is unyielding in his belief that it is possible, and right, for companies to profit by putting the communities first. Most recently, APRIL was again lauded for its community development programmes.

APRIL keeps up the good work

For the longest time, 32 year-old Indra Irawan was a small-time farmer who depended upon seven hectares of land for his palm oil business. With palm oil prices fluctuating at an increasingly regular pace, the father-of-two was increasingly worried about his income flow. After attending the Integrated Farming System programme organised by Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL however, things have undoubted taken a turn for the better. The programme taught Indra and his friends on the most cost, and waste-efficient methods of agriculture and horticulture.

As a result of specialised training and support provided by PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary, Indra is consistently bringing home a monthly salary of Rp 4 to 5 million – almost double what he used to make as an employee at Futong Port. Sukanto Tanoto may never meet many of people he has helped, but for people like Indra and many others, they will surely remain very grateful for the gentle resource giant that is Mr. Tanoto.

Investing in Tomorrow: Sukanto Tanoto’s Tanoto Foundation Grooms Future Leaders

Sukanto Tanoto is a business giant often known for his natural resource empire. As chairman of RGE, he manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas – all industry giants in their own rights. With over 60,000 employees under his charge and assets worth 18 billion dollars, Sukanto Tanoto is an oft-cited success story who inspires with his grit, determination, and spirit. While many have heard of his success in business, much less has been mentioned of his philanthropy.

How Tanoto Foundation started

Investing in Tomorrow: Sukanto Tanoto’s Tanoto Foundation Grooms Future  Leaders

The 68 year-old, often characterised by success and all its trappings, wasn’t born into all that he has today. As a seventeen year-old, Sukanto Tanoto had his education cut short – it left him with little choice but to strike it out on his own as he started his own business. While that has arguably turned out well for him, Sukanto Tanoto has always counted his unfinished education amongst his greatest regrets.

Sukanto Tanoto’s belief that everyone should have an equal right to do better in life ultimately laid the foundations for his philanthropy. Together with his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto, they started building kindergartens and schools in Besitang, Sumatra, back in 1981. As life-long learners themselves, the power couple deeply believed in the power of education, and have geared their philanthropy as such. Today, Tanoto Foundation (TF) prides itself on being a leading philanthropic organisation that has done much good for society.

An eye on tomorrow

Lestari Boediono, TF’s Head of Corporate Communications, most recently affirmed this, as she revealed the foundation’s plans to focus on grooming the next generation of Indonesian leaders. Through TF’s multitude of programmes, over 6,700 scholarships at 35 different universities have already been given, said Lestari at the fast breaking event in Medan.

The scholars of TF’s programmes are not just paid to study either; scholars are often provided with supplementary capacity-building training workshops, and often participate in networking sessions through the annual Tanoto Scholars Gathering. The scholars are also encouraged to pay it forward to spread the good to more people. The aim ultimately, said Lestari, is to fulfil the vision and mission thought of by Sukanto Tanoto and Tinah Bingei Tanoto – to educate, empower, and enhance the quality of lives.

Fighting Fire with Film: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Uses Innovative Approach to Cultivating a Fire Free Community

Sukanto Tanoto is one of Indonesia’s most famous and well-regarded businessmen. The Founder and Chairman of RGE, the global resource-manufacturing giant that manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas, his companies collectively employ 60,000 people and own assets worth over US $18 billion. Growing from a small business by the busy streets of Medan to the global behemoth operating in Indonesia, China, Spain, Canada and Singapore, Sukanto Tanoto’s story is one of going from rags to riches.

Sukanto Tanoto’s 5Cs Philosophy Does Good

Fighting Fire with Film: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Uses Innovative Approach to Cultivating a Fire Free Community

His success is not the only thing Sukanto Tanoto is known for, however. Sukanto Tanoto is well-known for his corporate philosophy of the 5Cs, to create good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company in whatever he does. It is a philosophy focusing on the creation of shared value, and is one his companies have imbibed. Today, his companies are known for their insistence on doing good for those around them. Palm Oil giant Asian Agri, for example, is known for its strong support of government initiatives. Pulp and Paper behemoth APRIL, on other hand, is well-regarded for its community-based initiatives.

APRIL Uses an Innovative Approach to Promote Fire Prevention

Most recently PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesia subsidiary, kept up this tradition when it carried out one of its community outreach programmes to inculcate in villagers the importance of fire safety and prevention. Notwithstanding the immense threats of health hazards and economic loss, using fire to clear land is an unsustainable practice that APRIL has consistently tried to stop. Through programmes such as the Fire Free Village Programme and the Fire Free Alliance, APRIL has committed itself to preventing and stopping forest and land fires.

To further promote the idea of only using sustainable production methods, APRIL recently engaged local villagers and farmers of Tumang Village, Siak through the movies. The innovative idea, which successfully captured the attention of both the young and elderly, managed to impress upon locals the many drawbacks of using fire as a production method. It seems to have worked, too. Head of Tumang village, Muhammad Tahir, described how his villagers are now much more alert and aware of the need to keep the lands free from fire.

The use of innovative methods such as films to inculcate the importance of fire protection and prevention is part of APRIL’s commitment to sustainability and shared value creation. Sailal Arimi, APRIL’s Fire Free Village Programme Manager, said that such methods of fire prevention are an important avenue for APRIL, given the ease of understanding that films provide and the high level of enthusiasm they manage to create.

A Fresh Start: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL helps Illegal Logger Go Straight

Sukanto Tanoto is an entrepreneur who came good despite the odds. Taking over his family’s spare parts business as a seventeen year-old, he was thrown into deep end. Yet the tenacious Sukanto Tanoto succeeded, cutting his business teeth in Medan, Indonesia and eventually starting the first of his many companies. Today, Sukanto Tanoto is chairman of RGE, a natural resource giant that manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. With his companies collectively employing 60,000 people and owning assets worth 18 billion dollars, Sukanto Tanoto has indubitably made a name for himself.

Doing good and doing well

More impressively,Sukanto Tanoto is also an entrepreneur with a heart. Throughout 50 years of business, he has advocated the creation of shared value for the Community, Country, Climate, Customers, and Company – a philosophy that has come to be known as the 5Cs. It is something he has always insisted upon, and all of Sukanto Tanoto’s companies have similarly followed suit. There exist many inspiring stories of his companies existing with the community in a symbiotic relationship. One such example is that of APRIL and former illegal logger Tengku Effendi.

A Fresh Start: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL helps Illegal Logger Go Straight

Sukanto Tanoto helps illegal logger come good

47 year-old Tengku Effendi, used to be an illegal logger. Under the Community Development (CD) Programme ran by PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary, Tengku finally went straight. Joining the programme in 2006, today the father of three has truly become a role model for all as an award-winning entrepreneur.

Under the CD programme, Tengku received from Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL, in terms of business and management training. APRIL didn’t just stop there, and even helped Tengku secure the loans required for his business. With a supportive framework in place, Tengku’s new transportation business took off, and has never looked back since. Today, Tengku’s business is thriving, and one of their biggest customer is APRIL, for whom Tengku transports fertilisers. In 2014, his company won a PT RAPP award for implementing workplace health and safety principles.

Country Roads, Take Me Home: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Repairs Road for Local Community

Sukanto Tanoto is the founder and chairman of RGE, a resource-based company started in Indonesia that has since gone global. Providing management services to companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas, Sukanto Tanoto’s companies collectively employ 60,000 people and own assets of over USD$18 billion. It is a meteoric rise to success for the billionaire entrepreneur; he was forced to take over his family business at the tender age of seventeen.

5Cs, the Tanoto Way

Country Roads, Take Me Home: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Repairs Road for Local Community

His success, while staggering, is made even more impressive by its foundation in a corporate philosophy known as the 5Cs. Aiming to create good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company in everything they do, it aims to create shared value for everyone. The 5Cs are testament to Sukanto Tanoto’s foresight and vision; many of his companies are now known for both their success and responsible practices.

APRIL Helps the Community

APRIL, in particular, has readily answered Sukanto Tanoto’s call. The pulp and paper giant has set in place a host of initiatives under their Community Development (CD) programme, run by its Indonesian subsidiary PT RAPP. As a result of these programmes, communities around the area of PT RAPP’s operations who benefit have had a traditionally positive relationship with RAPP.

Most recently, APRIL helped rebuild a road in Sentajo Raya sub-district of Kuansing, Riau, Indonesia. Mobilising two units of heavy equipment from RAPP, an excavator and motor grader were used rebuild the road that had fallen into disrepair. Village head Koto Tuo, Sumanhijar, was especially thankful, for the poor conditions of the road had previously made the area difficult to access. A spokesperson for the company said that the company remained supportive of communities around it, and that helping them was only in accordance of their 5Cs principle.

APRIL Impresses: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Praised by Delegation from National Resilience Institute

Sukanto Tanoto is one of Indonesia’s more famous businessmen. The 68 year-old is chairman and founder of RGE, a global resource giant that manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. With over 60,000 employees and 18 billion dollars in assets owned collectively, Sukanto Tanoto’s resource empire is one that often draws looks of amazement – and rightly so; his rise to the top of the game, from a seventeen year-old taking over a family business, to the success he is today, is inspiring in itself.

Philanthropy as a passion

While the billionaire entrepreneur’s success is widely-acclaimed, he has kept his feet firmly planted on the ground throughout. It was in part a result of his involvements in philanthropy, a passion nurtured over the years. Through Tanoto Foundation, which he started with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto, Sukanto Tanoto has managed to help the lives of many through his passion. The resource king has also transferred the same sense of duty to the community into his businesses. Sukanto Tanoto is a firm believer of the 5Cs, to create good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company. It is a philosophy espousing the creation of shared value, and is one that all his companies have adopted.

APRIL praised for good work done

This same philosophy was recently praised, when Maj. Gen. Nunu Nugraha led a team from the National Resilience Institute to visit APRIL’s operations. During the visit to PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary, Maj. Gen. Nugraha and his team learned about the advanced paper making processes employed by the company. The team also learned about APRIL’s many community-centred programmes, signs of APRIL’s commitment to the community around it. In particular the visitors, hosted by RAPP President Director Rudi Fajar, were introduced to the Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP). The crown jewel of APRIL’s fire-prevention and protection arsenal, the hugely successful programme will see 18 participants this year, up from nine.

APRIL Impresses: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Praised by Delegation from National Resilience Institute

APRIL’s highly successful Fire Free Village Programme

Maj. Gen. Nugraha and his team were noticeably impressed by the entire visit. The general was quick to comment, and said, “The paper we use, PaperOne, is of good quality and doesn’t damage easily. We are also amazed by the company’s programmes for the people and the surrounding region.”

Business with a Heart: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL focuses on Community Development

Sukanto Tanoto is the chairman and founder of RGE, one of Indonesia’s most successful companies. It manages other leading lights such as APRIL and Pacific Oil and Gas, and has operations across the globe. Needless to say, RGE is one of global industry’s largest players. Its companies collectively employ over 60,000 people and own assets exceeding 18 billion dollars. It is an empire he painstakingly built over 50 years in business, starting out as a 17 year-old who took over his father’s spare parts supply business. Never in his wildest dreams would he have envisioned the amount of success he would go on to have.

A commitment to helping others

According to the billionaire entrepreneur, his success would have been impossible without his forward-looking business philosophy. Sukanto  Tanoto firmly believes in creating shared value. It is something he calls the 5Cs: doing good for the Community, Country, Climate,  Customer, and Company. It is a nod to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) even before CSR became fashionable, testament to Sukanto Tanoto’s vision.

Business with a Heart: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL focuses on Community Development

APRIL commits to community development

Even today, his companies continue to portray the values he espouses. Pulp and paper giant APRIL is well-known in Indonesia for its Community Development programmes. Through the programme, the company has built homes, kick started entrepreneurial journeys, and even donated blood. Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy has paid off many times over; both the communities around and the company have benefitted greatly through mutual cooperation and concession. Unsurprisingly, APRIL is well-loved by many locals in the areas they operate in.

Most recently, APRIL, through its Indonesian subsidiary PT RAPP, carried out one of its many Community Development Programmes for the less economically-developed communities in the region. A mass circumcision programme, held in Kuntu Darussalam Village of the Kampar regency, was attended by dozens of children. Entirely supported by APRIL, the programme was one initiative to help alleviate the economic problems many in the village faced.

The help is something greatly appreciated. Head of Kuntu Darussalam Village, Maldanis, said, “We are grateful to RAPP for conducting Mass Circumcision program in this village. We hope other companies also imitate what is done by RAPP because the benefits are very much.”

 

Hand in Hand: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asian Agri works hand-in-hand with smallholders

Sukanto Tanoto is a billionaire entrepreneur renowned for his principles. Notably, he stands by the 5Cs philosophy: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company. He is unapologetically loyal to his philosophy too, to the point of insisting that the 5Cs be the compass for all his businesses. It is a decision that has, fortunately, worked out. Today Sukanto Tanoto is chairman of RGE, a resource industry behemoth that manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. With 60,000 people working under him and assets totalling 18 billion dollars, sticking to his philosophical guns has undoubtedly paid off.

Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy, strategy, and way of life

Hand in Hand: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asian Agri works hand-in-hand with smallholders

An important aspect of Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy dictates that his companies do good for the community. To that end, he has continually worked towards ensuring his businesses continue to have good relations with local communities. More than that, Sukanto Tanoto has advocated a mindset that working for the community makes business sense as well. These efforts have, ultimately, resulted in a mutually-beneficial partnership with tangible results. Most recently, Asian Agri was hailed for its remarkable partnership with smallholders in Indonesia.

Asian Agri’s push to perfect harmony

To date Asian Agri, one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers, is working with self-employed farmers who have a total land area of almost 24,000 hectares. It is the result of a massive expansion of the partnership between Asian Agri and smallholders; five years ago, smallholders only accounted for 2,700 hectares of Asian Agri’s plantations. It is a phenomenal increase, driven in part by Sukanto Tanoto’s interest in doing good for the community.

The company’s partnership with self-employed farmers, including Indonesia’s plasma programme, currently stands at 60,000 hectares. Asian Agri hopes to bring that figure up to 100,000 hectares, which including its own core plantation of 100,000 hectares, would mean the company hits its 1:1 goal.

Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL group supports local artists in creating environmental awareness

As one of the world’s leading paper and pulp manufacturers, APRIL constantly strives to realize the vision of its founder, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto.

Recently, APRIL had the pleasure of supporting artists in Indonesia whose creative talent has produced a series of beautiful paintings as part of the Caring for Climate Doodle Competition. Drawing on talent from across the country, this competition reflects Mr. Tanoto’s commitment to climate and environmental sustainability.

Artists express the ethos of Sukanto Tanoto’s four Cs

RGE’s Founder Sukanto Tanoto is well-known for his 4Cs philosophy, which places an emphasis on country, climate, community and company in the running of all his businesses.

The Caring for Climate competition gave ordinary Indonesians with special artistic talents the opportunity to express themselves on the topic of climate and sustainability – with beautiful results. Colorful canvases depicting smiling faces, green mountains, and crystal-clear water are just some of the images that Indonesian artists produced under this inspiration.

APRIL’s commitment extends to all areas of community life

The APRIL group and its subsidiary, RAPP, are deeply committed to supporting community projects in Indonesia, in keeping with Mr. Tanoto’s vision. The Caring for Climate competition saw this commitment extended beyond individual communities, as the whole of Indonesia had an opportunity to showcase its creative talent.

RAPP’s Mill Operational Director, Ali Shabri, attended the competition and had the following to say:

“This is a great event to introduce to people that our company operates in an environmentally-friendly way. Our paper is made from renewable resources that we grow responsibly and in accordance with our business philosophy of being Good for Climate.”

To stay up-to-date with the RGE group’s latest climate initiatives, we invite you to follow Mr. Sukanto Tanoto via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, About.me or LinkedIn.

A Promise is a Promise: Under Sukanto Tanoto, PT RAPP Honours its Word

Sukanto Tanoto is a man of his word, who understands the power and significance of a promise. The way he sees it, trust is a trait that no amount of money can buy; it is –as clichéd as it sounds – earned. It is for this reason the chairman of RGE –which manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas – always strives to honour his word.

A heart for the community, an attitude to match

A Promise is a Promise: Under Sukanto Tanoto, PT RAPP Honours its Word

It is an attitude that Sukanto Tanoto brings across through all his dealings, and a mindset that he has sought to instil within all his businesses. Together with his philosophy of the 4Cs –creating Good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company –it makes for a winning combination; the billionaire entrepreneur has built an empire with over USD 18 billion dollars worth of assets, and a 60,000 strong workforce. It is little surprise then, that Sukanto Tanoto’s companies are often known for their trustworthiness, commitment, and community-centric initiatives. Recently, these same values were on show as PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary, was evaluated and found to have kept its promises to the local communities in the Meranti Islands.

Doing good for Meranti

Under the Hutan Tanaman Industri (HTI) programme, companies operating in the Meranti Islands are tasked with being a force for good – to improve the local community through the economy and CSR initiatives. One major part of their task is to ensure part of the plantations they manage is reserved for the growing of crops important to the local community, a promise to ensure the community would not be neglected.

At a recent evaluation by the Parliament of the Meranti Islands, Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL was the only operator to have kept its promise. While PT RAPP had already fulfilled their commitments in 10 villages, it was the only major operator to do so. With over 1,100 hectares of land already used for the plantation of crops required by the community, and IDR 25 billion in grants disbursed out to residents, APRIL is definitely taking its commitment seriously. Sukanto Tanoto simply wouldn’t have it any other way.