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.

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.

Sateri ranks highly among global cellulose fiber manufacturers, fulfilling Sukanto Tanoto’s business vision

Sateri celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and in just a decade and a half, the business founded by visionary, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto, is set to become the world’s biggest viscose staple fiber producer by 2020. In this article, we take a closer look at the global cellulose fiber market and find out how Sateri became an industry leader.

VSF – a crucial part of the global textiles industry

Viscose staple fiber is an essential component in the production of textiles, tissues, and sanitary products – in fact, it’s hard to go through a single day without using something that was made using VSF. As one of the leading suppliers of this crucial product, Sateri occupies an important position in the international textile industry.

Quality and competitiveness

With a focus on quality standards and efficient manufacturing, Sateri has made its presence felt in an industry that was once dominated by older competitors. The company’s high-quality VSF has attracted customers from every continent, creating another success story for the RGE group of companies founded by Sukanto Tanoto.

Mr. Tanoto’s 4Cs – a winning business philosophy

Going beyond profits and giving back to communities and the natural environment have always been part of Mr. Sukanto Tanoto’s business approach.

Sateri’s success can be measured financially as well as environmentally, and the company’s commitment to sustainable forestry and the preservation of natural habitats is proof that Mr. Tanoto’s 4 Cs – climate, country, community, and company – are an excellent recipe for success.

If you’d like to stay up to date with Sateri and its parent company RGE, we invite you to follow Mr. Sukanto Tanoto via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, About.me or LinkedIn.

Building a Relationship, One Step at a Time: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asian Agri’s CSR Programme Takes Flight

Sukanto Tanoto is a man of verve, grit, and gumption. Self-possessed even as a seventeen year-old, he was determined to succeed, and succeed he has indeed. Today, he is Chairman of RGE Group; it is a behemoth in the natural resources industry, and manages renowned names like APRIL, Asian Agri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. Despite his staggering success, he remains as passionate as his teenage self was to succeed, to make his mark, and to do good for the community.

Building a Relationship, One Step at a Time: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asian Agri’s CSR Programme Takes Flight

His personal and corporate philosophy towards any of his dealings has always centred on the 4Cs: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company. It has become a sort of mantra, and that Community is the 4Cs reflects the importance to which Sukanto Tanoto places on it. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that all his companies have the community in mind –through having sustainable practices, community development programmes, partnerships, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Asian Agri, one of Asia’s largest sustainable palm oil producers, recently carried out one such activity for the underprivileged in Batubara.

The programme, a partnership with Koramil 04 Talawi, seeks to build better sanitation facilities for the community. It is a small gesture by Asian Agri, recognition that the relationship they have with the community is valuable, and must remain beneficial for everyone. It is a carefully-calibrated symbiosis between both parties; the community trusts Asian Agri enough to allow them to use their resources, while Asian Agri repays that faith by continuously improving the community. It is exactly as Sukanto Tanoto envisioned; everyone accepting their role, commitment, and obligations to others, and doing their best to ensure an inclusive and prosperous environment.

Currently, five of the fourteen latrines planned have already been built. It is only a matter of time before this project is successfully completed, and Asian Agri moves on to the next –continuing their quiet work for the community. Sukanto Tanoto would be proud.

Tanoto Foundation Teacher Programs

The Tanoto Foundation was founded by Indonesian entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto and his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto in 1981 as a way for them to give back to the community. The Foundation’s first philanthropic act was to fund the construction of a Kindergarten and elementary school in Besitang, North Sumatra in 1981.

Since the Tanoto Foundation’s modest beginnings, it has grown to encompass nationwide educational programs in an effort to alleviate poverty in rural areas by helping both students and teachers to receive better education.

The Foundation operates in the areas where its Founder, and member of the Board of Trustee’s, Sukanto Tanoto’s businesses are located: Indonesia, Singapore, China and the USA.

The Tanoto Foundation’s main focus is to alleviate poverty in rural areas by funding and developing programs which are aimed at improving access to and quality of education, empowering rural and financially unstable communities to be self-sufficient and enhancing the quality of life in rural areas.

While the foundation is involved with various activities and programs including free health care in rural villages, handing out scholarships and providing vocational training programs, Sukanto Tanoto believes that great teachers are needed to further the education of the new generations. This is why the Foundation has four different teaching programs which are:

  • Pelita Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini – Aimed at improving the quality of rural early childhood education through helping teachers achieve national certification, further training teachers and caregivers to improve their competency and renovating the educational infrastructures.
  • Pelita Guru Mandiri – Aimed at training teachers in topics such as the development and implementation of a contextual learning approach, effective classroom management and collaborative learning between teachers and students. Through implementing these teaching methods students become more involved in the lessons and learn more on average.
  • Pelita Pustaka – Builds and renovates school libraries, supporting schools where access to information is limited. Teachers are trained to be librarians and each school in the program is given books for its library which are rotated on a 2-3 month basis with other participating schools.
  • Pelita ASRI – Aimed at creating clean, healthy and safe learning environments at schools through installing clean water supplies, renovating bathrooms and classrooms and providing classroom furniture.

“Our thesis is that schools are the building blocks of society. If you want to alleviate poverty, you have to work through schools,”- Belinda Tanoto, daughter of Sukanto Tanoto and a member of the Tanoto Foundation Board of Trustees.

For more information on Sukanto Tanoto, you can learn more about him here.

Good News Spreads Like Wildfire: Under Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL praised for Fire-Free Village Programme

The pulp and paper industry has, in recent history, been subject to intense scrutiny – with the problem of haze and environmental protection having become regional and even international talking points. Managing and reducing forest fires, identified as the key to solving these issues, has naturally become a matter of increasing priority of communities, countries, and companies. It is comforting, therefore, to know that progress has been made in this respect; Sukanto Tanoto-led APRIL was recently praised for its efforts, notably the Fire-Free Village Programme (FFVP).

FFVP not a one-off

 Good News Spreads Like Wildfire: Under Sukanto Tanoto, APRIL praised for Fire-Free Village Programme

The FFVP has almost become the crown jewel of APRIL’s initiatives in tackling the much-dreaded forest fires. While the pulp-and-paper giant, owned by businessman Sukanto Tanoto, has had an array of initiatives promoting more sustainable and responsible practices –one only needs think of the Restorasi Ekosistem Riau and the Fire-Free Alliance – the FFVP has definitely received a huge share of the limelight, deservedly so. A multi-stakeholder initiative that focuses on fire prevention and suppression, the project was recently given the stamp of approval by head of National Agency for Disaster Management, Willem Rampangilei. Rampangilei was on hand to launch FFVP 2017, at Pelawalan Airstrip, Riau.

FFVP receives plaudits, support, and faith.

The FFVP is merely one of many examples highlighting Sukanto Tanoto’s community-centric approach to business and, indeed, life. The businessman and philanthropist is chairman of Singapore-based RGE, which itself manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas, and co-founded the Tanoto Foundation with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto. At the heart of all his ventures and companies however, is the 4Cs philosophy: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company. This same philosophy, whilst providing the rock on which his empire would stand, has allowed the communities around his companies to benefit greatly.

The importance of including the community and stakeholders within a company’s plans was also highlighted during the launch. Fire prevention, Rampangilei reminded, requires strong commitment and awareness from various parties. Rampangilei also mentioned that he was sure the FFVP could contribute to the suppression and land and forest fires, and hoped to see the programme further expanded to other parts of Indonesia. Sukanto Tanoto would be proud.

Project Sukacita Changes Lives in Pekanbaru

Pekanbaru is the capital of the Riau province in Indonesia, and the 10th largest city of Indonesia. However, the rural folk of Pekanbaru lead a very simple way of life. Many do not have access to basic healthcare or health related information such as proper hygiene practises or knowledge of nutrition and the nearest medical facilities are often miles away from them.

The 25 volunteer members of Project Sukacita have devised specific programmes and activities that they hope will serve to educate the people in the communities of rural Pekanbaru, as well as address the health concerns of the children. Some of the most common health problems these locals face are infections, diarrhoea, fever, flu, malaria, malnutrition, rashes, and vomiting.

Out of the 25 student volunteers, 15 of the students are from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of medicine, and the remaining 10 are from the Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University’s IndoClub.

Project Sukacita’s Plan of Action

Due to the language barrier some of the medical students encountered, the Indonesian students were relied upon to translate their advice to the mothers and nannies who attended the Project Sukacita educational talks. At these talks, basic ways to manage the more commonly found health problems were discussed, as were early warning signs that caregivers could look out for that would indicate urgent need for medical attention.

Lastly the children themselves were given a lesson in basic nutrition where they learned about important nutrients they needed such as fibre, proteins and vitamins in order to have a healthy balanced diet.

Project Sukacita is a volunteer community service project run by Tanoto Foundation scholarship students as a way to “pay it forward”. The Tanoto Foundation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improve the lives of people living in impoverished and rural areas through education, empowerment and enhancement of quality of life. The Foundation operates in areas the Royal Golden Eagle group of companies, founded by Sukanto Tanoto, operate in.