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.

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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.

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.

A little less combustion, a lot more cooperation: How Sukanto Tanoto’s corporate philosophy doused the forest flames

People used to have poor impressions of companies dealing with natural resources – they would be accused of pillaging the environment, desecrating the lands, and leaving nature in a much worse shape than before. That might have been how it used to be, but not anymore. Under business giant Sukanto Tanoto’s corporate philosophy of the 4Cs –creating good for the community, country, climate, and the company – Mr Tanoto’s companies have set an example for the new way to go in natural resources management.

Working hand in hand: Making Riau fire-free, together.

Asian Agri, one of Asia’s leading palm oil producers with an annual palm oil production of one million tonnes, embraces Sukanto Tanoto’s 4Cs in their day to day operations. Asian Agri most recently showed their commitment to the climate and communities in which they operate, when they awarded 4 villages in Riau (where the Asian Agri group operates) for meeting the standards set out in the Fire Free Village Programme (FFVP). A total of seven villages took part in the programme, which meant that more than half the villages under the FFVP received an award. Under the programme, villages are encouraged to focus on aspects such as fire detection, suppression, awareness, and education.

A little less combustion, a little more cooperation: How Sukanto Tanoto’s guiding philosophy doused the forest flames

From a dream to reality: Commitment to the community, commitment to the climate.  

The FFVP, first initiated in July 2015, was pioneered by APRIL, one of the business groups managed by RGE. RGE – founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto – manages companies including Asian Agri, Bracell, and Sateri, amongst others; their operations span across the globe in locations such as Indonesia, China, Canada, and Singapore.

The reward awarded to the four villages for their sustainable and safe practices stood at Rp100,000,000 (approximately USD7,530) each, totalling Rp400,000,000 (approximately USD30,120) for this round – funds which will go into developing the infrastructure and community of these villages. Under Sukanto Tanoto’s leadership and vision, these rewards have gone, and will continue to go a long way in keeping RGE and its business groups’ longstanding commitment in ensuring that the environment and communities partnered are empowered economically and sustainably, for the long run.

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

The Remarkable Benefits of Healthcare Initiatives Facilitated by the Tanoto Foundation

Through its most recent philanthropic endeavor, the Tanoto Foundation has partnered up with RAPP (Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper) – one of the foundation’s corporate partners also linked to well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sukanto Tanoto – to create new opportunities for improved healthcare in the Gunung Sari village in Riau.

The program sought to train medical cadres in the area, and achieved great success throughout the community, reflecting once more on the RGE Group and the Tanoto Foundation’s concern for the community.

 

Training for Healthcare Personnel

The main goal of the program was to provide quality, professional training for local medical staff, while also providing the community with assistance geared toward facilitating simple, routine activities for helping people living around the operational areas of PT. RAPP.

All assistance was provided through a health clinic located in Gunung Sahilan, and one of the major activities had to do with assisting mothers in receiving health support – as part of a larger initiative towards helping to decrease the numbers of child, infant and childbirth deaths in rural areas like the Gunung Sari village.

As an additional bonus, the program also brought numerous benefits geared toward improving the community’s well-being. Food packages were provided for families in need, and services such as free circumcision were also on the agenda, ensuring that disadvantaged families could still benefit from them.

 

Community Response

The community responded in an extremely positive manner to this remarkable gesture made by the two organizations that helped them realize there are still people out there who actually care about making a difference and fighting poverty. Local members of the community have expressed gratitude and great admiration for both RAPP and the Tanoto Foundation, while also pointing out many of the other advantages that these institutions have brought over time.

Aside from this health program, others have also been facilitated in the past. What’s more, the area has enjoyed quite a lot of attention from the Tanoto Foundation and from PT. RAPP, through projects for improving education and granting scholarships to local children, as well as support for infrastructural development.

The head of the clinic at Gunung Sahilan was also extremely supportive of the endeavor and voiced her hope that further assistance can be given in the long run through continual support and clinical training, so that the children in the area can receive better treatment in the following weeks, months and years.

 

Long Term Goals and Plans

This type of training program is part of a constant initiative that Sukanto Tanoto and the Tanoto Foundation are hoping to increase over the next few years. Although the mortality rates and health risks in Indonesian rural areas have subsided over the past few decades, they are still alarmingly high, and the fact that a large portion of the country’s inhabitants are still living below the national poverty line is definitely not an encouraging fact.

Nevertheless, due to efforts such as these growing in number, there is quite a lot of hope that the situation in areas like the Gunung Sari village can drastically improve in the next few years.

New Philanthropic Initiatives for Indonesia: The Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy

After the years in which the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDG) designed for helping philanthropic foundations improve conditions in countries like Indonesia were deemed to be somewhat incomplete, a new set of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was set in place recently. Philanthropic organizations gathered to find new solutions for poverty, health issues and inadequate education.

The new program, called the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy, has been set in place by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to outline the necessary changes and activities that are planned to be enacted in the years following 2015.

Who Is Behind the Initiative?

The new program is collectively run by the UNDP together with the Foundation Center and a group of other organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, the Tanoto Foundation and the Conrand N. Hilton Foundation, held together through a collaboration committee and fully supported and guided by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Indonesia is among the few countries that were chosen as targets for the new program, due to the fact that many of their inhabitants live well below the national poverty line and many new changes are required before adequate possibilities for a healthier, safer and happier life can be ensured for as much of the population as possible.

The proposal for the new SDGs was first presented after a year of painstaking work performed by a comprehensive group composed of representatives from more than 70 governments.

Established at the end of 2014, they were essentially the first part of a plan that would stretch from 2015 across almost 2 decades up to the 2030s, with goals including:

  • the unfinished MDGs – such as ending poverty and health related problems, improving education and achieving gender equality
  • economic and environmental sustainability
  • the creation and improvement of peaceful societies and initiatives to speed up development.

The foundations operating in the countries in question are expected to have widespread influence and retain the initiative to work on enacting these goals in a manner as straightforward and efficient as possible. In Indonesia, the Tanoto Foundation is among the key players involved in helping provide better resources, opportunities for infrastructural and health care improvements, and educational means for achieving goals such as gender equality and a higher degree of literacy.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda

The deadline of the MDGs is rapidly passing, and with the new goals in place, it seems that the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy has a brand new plan to implement in the following years, named the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This initiative was created to outline the way in which the new SDGs are expected to be implemented and ensure that, through the collaboration of a larger group of stakeholders, the goals are given a better chance of success for the future.

The project will provide the governments in countries like Indonesia, as well as grant holders and the UN system, with more data and a better understanding of the key issues that need to be addressed. According to the UNDP, in Indonesia, the focus will be more on continuing efforts to lower the number of people living below the national poverty line and providing better access to clean water, while also improving the health care system to reduce the number of infant and child deaths and stop the spread of HIV.

Data gathered from surveys placed healthcare, education, food and better security among the top concerns that countries facing high rates of poverty need to address. Through the initiatives set forth by the Partnership Platform for Philanthropy, the required activities for improving these areas are expected to be set in motion as soon as the end of 2015, with a long and extremely active schedule in place for the next 10-15 years.