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.

Train Safety, Work Safely: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asian Agri Makes Safety Training a Key Priority

Sukanto Tanoto’s rise to the top is a bona-fide success story for the ages. Building his business empire from scratch, today Sukanto Tanoto is the chairman of RGE –which manages some of the biggest names in the natural resources industries such as APRIL, Asian Agri, and Sateri.  An astute businessman and a keen philanthropist, Sukanto Tanoto has always centred his actions on the 4Cs philosophy: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company. He knows that doing well by the stakeholders he depends upon – the workers, suppliers, and community –is imperative for his continued success. One way to do well by his people is by keeping them safe. In that regard, Asian Agri has taken concrete steps, with their recent safety training programme.

Asian Agri Makes it Big, Sustainably

One of Asia’s largest palm oil producers with an annual production of one million tons, the company founded by Sukanto Tanoto has been a champion for sustainable and responsible practices. Occupational Safety and Health, naturally, is one of their great concerns. Various initiatives and steps have been implemented, in a bid to minimise the number of workplace accidents, through its regular training for different aspects of Occupational Safety and Health throughout its business units.

Creating a Safe Culture, One Training at a Time

On April 28 to 29, 2017, Asian Agri again held the Work Accident Training programme for the Northern Sumatra region. A total of 42 Participants, coming from all of Asian Agri’s business units in the region, were present; they were trained by an expert from the Association of Safety Professionals in Indonesia (APKPI), Edy Saptono.

The training, which aims to improve the competence of the Asian Agri family at dealing with workplace safety issues, provides a periodic reminder that the culture of safety must start from the top. Only with unit leaders having a common understanding of safety and its processes, can a culture of safety truly and indelibly imprint itself within the company. While not one which directly generates profits for the company, it is a crucial step in ensuring that Sukanto Tanoto’s 4Cs vision comes to fruition.

RGE representatives attend 2017 World Economic Forum on behalf of Chairman, Sukanto Tanoto

January 2017 saw RGE representatives Mr. Anderson Tanoto, Director of RGE and son of RGE founder, entrepreneur and business leader, Sukanto Tanoto, and Mr. Tey Wei Lin, RGE President, attend the World Economic Forum (WEF), which was hosted in the peaceful, alpine resort town of Davos, located in Graubünden, Switzerland.

This occasion marks the convergence of some of the world’s most successful business-people, entrepreneurs and sustainability champions. RGE attended forums and discussions on thought leadership, emerging trends, the world economy and how to bridge the gap between the private sector and government and non-government players to be a force for the greater good.

Attendees at Indonesia Night

Attendees at Indonesia Night

Since 2015, company Chairman, Sukanto Tanoto has encouraged that RGE become a vital participant in the forum that takes place at the WEF, in an effort to best understand emerging trends and how the private sector can work hand-in-hand with both government and non-government entities to be beneficial for the community, the country, the climate and the company – the vital ‘Four C’s’ that define all of RGE’s operations.

Anderson Tanoto’s Reflections

Focusing on the theme of the 2017 WEF in Davos, RGE Director, Anderson Tanoto expressed that ‘responsive and responsible leadership is required; leadership with a radar and a compass.’

Tanoto stated that as a leader and businessman he believes that in having a moral compass, being able to judge what is right and wrong means: ‘Having a compass of knowing what is the true north and still doing the right things while the world continues to evolve’. He went on to say that RGE invests in the ‘long term, not the next three to five years, but rather the next ten, 20 years, or even longer’.

RGE celebrates continued Indonesian Tradition

As is tradition at the WEF each year, RGE sponsored the highly auspicious occasion of Indonesian Night. In partnership with the Indonesian government and business community, Davos delegates were introduced to traditional cuisine, cultural performances as well as insights into the business outlook of Indonesia’s economy – rated the 10th largest in the world.

As diverse as all the business groups are, RGE and Mr. Tanoto celebrate tradition and the common thread, the Four C’s that connects all entities. To follow RGE’s sustainability initiatives, business updates and social responsibility projects throughout Indonesia, Mr. Tanoto invites you to follow him on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or LinkedIn.

Growing the Tree of Success Together: Under Sukanto Tanoto’s Leadership, APRIL Fosters Local Entrepreneurship Together.

Much has been made of Indonesia’s pulp and paper industry; it is an industry that has faced many ups and downs within and outside of the country, with challenges inherent to the industry well-reported. Much less mentioned has been the good that big players in the industry like APRIL – managed by RGE and founded by businessman Sukanto Tanoto – have managed to create for the community, by providing a platform and structure for economic development and lifting many out of poverty.

APRIL helps create an ecosystem for growth

Recent data released by the government showed that the pulp and paper industry contributed to 6.7 percent of Indonesia’s manufacturing gross domestic product in 2016, directly creating 260 thousand jobs and contributing to the creation of 840 thousand more jobs indirectly. These are staggering figures, and are the kinds of statistics that continue to validate RGE chairman Sukanto Tanoto’s 4Cs philosophy –creating good for the community, country, climate, and the company together. Likewise, companies managed by Mr Tanoto’s holdings company RGE, like pulp and paper giant APRIL, have sought to ensure their presence remains beneficial for everyone involved.

Asian Agri Learning Centre

Benefitting everyone, from the ground up

Government statistics do not tell the whole story either. On the ground, many Indonesians have felt a similarly positive influence from the continued presence of companies like APRIL. Kerinci resident, Sulaiman, recounts his story of how companies like APRIL, founded by Sukanto Tanoto, have allowed residents to move away from unstable working conditions, and helped Kerinci flourish.

“One of my staff members used to work odd times, helping his father, who is a fisherman and they barely earned Rp 1 million per month. Working here, they can earn more, and some can even earn up to Rp 4 million per month,” said the 38 year old businessman.

According to APRIL’s community development manager, Sundari Berlian, the company has registered 190 partners who work directly in partnership with APRIL. Furthermore, APRIL has already helped to create 90 thousand employment opportunities –a situation that businessmen like Sulaiman hope can continue. With Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy firmly guiding the actions of all his companies, one can be sure that APRIL will continue to do good for everyone it works with, wherever it is.

Smallholders receive IDR 2.6 Billion from Tanoto’s Asian Agri in Palm Oil Partnership

Asian Agri, the major Palm Oil producer founded by businessman and entrepreneur, Sukanto Tanoto, recently concluded a 2.6 billion Indonesian Rupiah transaction with more than 29,000 grassroots partners at a Premium Sharing ceremony attended by the Indonesian Trade Minister.

Since its founding in 1979, Asian Agri has gone from strength to strength. Today, the company manages over 100 000 hectares of palm plantations, and has entered into partnerships with the Association of Village Unit Co-Operatives (KUD), in accordance with Mr Tanoto’s vision of community development.


A Sukanto Tanoto philosophy, creating partners in sustainably managed plantations

KUD represents 29 000 smallhold farmers in Indonesia’s Riau and Jambu provinces who manage a total of 60 000 Ha of palm plantations. Through their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, these small businesspeople have become important partners in the production of sustainable palm oil for export to markets across the globe.

Speaking at the Premium Sharing ceremony Indonesia’s Trade Minister, Enggartiasto Lukita, recognized the excellent partnership between small farmers and Asian Agri, which is one of the biggest players in the palm oil industry. The success of these partnerships is the realization of Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy of a business that is good for country, climate, community and company.

Asian Agri director Freddy Widjaya attended the ceremony on the company’s behalf and presided over the completion of the large transaction that took place. Noting the enthusiasm for sustainably produced palm oil in the European market, he expressed his optimism about the future of this very successful partnership.

To find out more about this and other uplifting projects being undertaken by the RGE group of companies, please follow Mr Sukanto Tanoto via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or LinkedIn.