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.


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.

The Three Pronged Strategy of Tanoto Foundation

sukanto tanoto tinah tanotoFounded in 1981 by Indonesian businessman and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto, the Tanoto Foundation supports poverty alleviation efforts in Indonesia. Sukanto Tanoto and Tinah Tanoto strongly believe that everyone has an equal right create a better quality of life for themselves and their families, and that the way to do so is through education; which is why the first project the Foundation worked on was building and opening a Kindergarten and elementary school in rural Besitang in North Sumatra, Indonesia in 1981.

In 2001, Tanoto Foundation was officially established in Singapore as a non-profit charitable organisation, privately funded by the Tanoto Family. The Foundation is currently active in Indonesia, China, Singapore and the USA.

The Foundation utilizes a three pronged strategy in their fight against poverty: Education, Empowerment and Enhancing quality of living.

The educational sector of the Tanoto Foundation includes:

  • Building and financially assisting schools in rural communities.
  • Handing out scholarships to students.
  • Teacher training.
  • Providing funding for medical research and environmental studies.

Empowerment is achieved through partnering with corporate businesses APRIL and RAPP, both companies founded by Sukanto Tanoto, to:

  • Facilitate small to medium business developments through microfinance and vocational training.
  • Establish Community Fibre Farms and support them with equipment and training.
  • Promote integrated farming systems.

Tanoto Foundation enhances the quality of living in rural areas by:

  • Building infrastructures such as roads and community buildings.
  • Digging boreholes to provide fresh water.
  • Providing free health checks and medical services.

Since launching its first scholarship programme in 2006, the Foundation has expanded the scholarship programme to include five other programme sectors, and has handed out a combined total of over 6700 scholarships to students in schools and universities around Indonesia and Singapore.

Although the Foundation is not an emergency-relief organisation, they do what they can to help in times of great need due to natural disasters. Assistance and relief have been provided by the Foundation and its corporate partners to tsunami, earthquake, landslide and volcanic eruption affected communities.

For more information about Tanoto Foundation or its founder, Sukanto Tanoto visit:

Tanoto Forestry Information Centre

tanoto forestry information centreOn 21 December 2015, the Tanoto Forestry Information Centre was officially opened to the public. The Centre is a collaborative project between the Bogar Agricultural University, locally known as the Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), and the Tanoto Foundation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto.

Fast forward to 21 December 2016, and the Tanoto Forestry Information Centre is successfully on its way to fulfilling the vision the IPB and Tanoto Foundation had for it, to become an informative place for scientific forestry information and environmental services. The Centre is always bustling with activity, averaging 400 visitors per month.

Within the three story-building one can gain access to international journals on forestry studies, as well as to IPB’s library collections, scientific journals and panel and video information regarding forestry.

To turn the Tanoto Forestry Information Centre into a core networking and collaboration facility amongst the international forestry stakeholders, a number of industry professionals such as researchers from the United States, delegates from the 2016 International Union of Forest Research Organisations Congress, students from Taiwan as well as numerous events have been hosted by the Centre to share knowledge and technology to support the forestry sector.

“The forestry’s industry and sector is crucial to the economy of Indonesia. To improve the sector’s contribution, Indonesia needs people knowledgeable in forestry. These are the people who can use and develop applicable knowledge. We hope Tanoto Forestry Information Centre will produce prominent scientists and practitioners of forestry at the national and international levels.” – Sukanto Tanoto, founder of the Tanoto Foundation.

Sukanto Tanoto, who is on the board of directors of the Tanoto Foundation, said that one of the reasons that the Tanoto Foundation has collaborated with IPB on the forestry information centre is to show its support in the effort to develop and share the knowledge of forestry in Indonesia.

The intention is to eventually be able to open the Centre to the general public, so they may obtain, learn and share information regarding forestry.

tanoto forestry information centre

Tanoto Foundation, under the guidance and leadership of Sukanto Tanoto, teaches community members how to earn money from their waste


Tanoto Foundation trainees display some of the crafts that they can make from trash and sell for a profit.

Enhancing the quality of life for community members and creating awareness of environmental issues has been a continuing key focus of Mr. Sukanto Tanoto and the Tanoto Foundation. The RGE Group of companies, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tanoto, has been involved in many projects, studies and philanthropic activities, and one of the foundation’s efforts has been a holistic approach to help in the alleviation of poverty.

Recently, it has been the focus of the Tanoto Foundation and RGE to educate community members on how to better handle their trash, in a creative and useful way. This is in-line with Sukanto Tanoto’s vision of doing good for the community and environment while earning success in the business world.

How Sukanto Tanoto’s Tanoto Foundation boosts creative recycling

Mr. Sukanto Tanoto and the Tanoto Foundation teamed up with CSR Asian Agri on this specific project to adopt sustainable practices. The aim is to curb pollution in Indonesia and also teach community members that being responsible with their waste can pay off in terms of the environment and extra finances.

From the 30th to 31st August 2016, waste management training was provided to village community members in Pelalawan. The aim of the training course was to teach community members that not all trash is dirty and useless. With a bit of creativity, the trash can be transformed into items or recycled effectively. Both of these efforts can earn citizens real currency, which can improve their quality of life.

30 Indonesian residents attended the course. The participants learnt various waste management skills and it is hoped that the crafts they create from their trash can be marketed and sold at local community fairs.

This is not the first waste management or recycling effort that the Tanoto Foundation has been involved in. The Foundation also assisted in the funding of a waste warehouse which was constructed in Black Water village.

The introduction of Banking for Trash Asri and how it benefits the community

The ‘Asri Trash Bank‘, which is a garbage bank, is an innovative community project encouraging villagers who are part of the “Bank Trash Asri” program to deposit their waste at the trash bank. At a later stage, all savers and contributors will be paid out in Rupiah for their “deposits”.

This is a great way to get villagers thinking about how they handle their trash and how they can be rewarded for recycling or handling their waste products responsibly. Some of the trash collected is used to create crafts to be sold, which also earns the community a small income.

When you consider that Indonesia is the 2nd largest contributor of plastic waste on a global scale, it’s easy to see just how much good foundations such as Tanoto Foundation are doing by educating and training community members about better and more creative waste management.

Bank Trash Asri thanks Tanoto Foundation for their funding and training efforts

The Director of Asri Trash Bank publicly thanked all companies involved in funding the community training, Tanoto Foundation included. He also said that he hopes the collaboration of the bank, community, government and philanthropic foundations can continue in order to improve the quality of life for the Indonesian community.

Tanoto Foundation guarantees ongoing support for the Bank Trash Asri

The Tanoto Foundation spokesperson advised that the foundation will make itself available to assist with providing the bank with general guidance, building assistance, sorting trash, waste management training, waste management skills development on an ongoing basis.

As with many of the other philanthropic events the Tanoto Foundation is involved in, waste management training is in-line with the vision of Mr. Sukanto Tanoto which is to do good for the community and environment while also focusing on being profitable.

You can follow Mr. Sukanto Tanoto via social media on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Tanoto Foundation, Founded by Sukanto Tanoto, Looks Forward to 2017


Tanoto Foundation – Educators complete training courses provided by the Tanoto Foundation to improve on teaching competency.

The Tanoto Foundation, founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto has been involved in many projects, studies and philanthropic events throughout 2016 and they have much planned for 2017. The foundation intends to focus a great deal of their time and energy on developing early childhood educational programs in Indonesia in the upcoming year.

The Tanoto Foundation’s stance on education in Indonesia

The Tanoto Foundation has always had an interest in improving on and providing education to Indonesian children. In fact, the focus on education is in line with their mantra of doing good for community, the environment and profits.

According to Sihol Aritonang, the Head of the Tanoto Foundation in Indonesia, the focus on education is not just on providing it. It’s on ensuring that education is of a good quality in Indonesia.

What the Tanoto Foundation plans for 2017 education enhancement

Sihol recently told the media that the 2017 education enhancement program will achieve the following:

  • Provision of learning tools that actually meet with standards in place on a national basis
  • Guidance, support and education for teachers in order to improve on their teaching competence
  • Boost the learning process and encourage creativity of students and graduates that show potential during the early childhood stages.

The aim of the Tanoto Foundation is to have a positive impact on the community and this is certainly done by ensuring that Indonesian children have access to a good quality education. This will ensure a more stable and solid future for Indonesia and its people.

The Tanoto Foundation has been involved in over 30 early childhood education projects across Riau, Jambi, Jakarta and Sumatra before the end of September 2016.

2017 enhanced education focus reiterates the sustainable development goals of the Foundation

Anyone who is familiar with the philanthropic efforts of the Tanoto Foundation will know that all of their activities are done in line with their sustainable development goals. These goals are the focus and teachings of visionary, Mr Sukanto Tanoto, who believes that true success can only be attained through doing good for the environment, community and the business.

The Tanoto Foundation is one that is dedicated to eliminating poverty and improving on education in Indonesia there aim to do even more in 2017 is testimony to his teachings.

You can follow the founder, Mr Sukanto Tanoto, via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or LinkedIn.

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.

A Lifesaving Initiative by RAPP – Efforts to Provide Better Treatment for a Young Girl

Nurul Aisyah was only 7 months old when her mother discovered that something was very wrong with her little girl. Later, it was discovered that she had a rare heart disorder that caused frequent seizures, high fever and severe pain, predicting a grim future for the young girl, unless expensive treatments could be provided as soon as possible.

As news of the little girl’s story has rippled throughout the community, representatives from RAPP (Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper) – the largest provider of paper and pulp in the Sumatra area – have responded by initiating a fund raiser that has brought new hope to the girl’s troubled parents.

Nurul Aisyah – The Struggle of Poverty

The young girl is now almost two years of age, kept under close observation and receiving good assistance in a renowned government hospital. All this would not have been possible without the help of active community members who took interest in learning about the story of Nurul Aisyah and her parents.

The young girl was born in a poor family, with her father barely being able to earn enough to put food on the table. When her parents learned of her debilitating disease, however, food was far from being the first thing on their minds, as they strived to save up as much money as possible for consultations and treatments.

Doctors, however, had bad news for the family, stating that Nurul Aisyah would need professional treatments worth tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, if she was to be given a chance at a normal life. All seemed hopeless for the small family, as the little girl’s father could only occasionally earn a little extra by working for construction contractors and there seemed to be no other avenue towards acquiring the necessary funding to pay for the treatments.

As it sometimes happens, luckily, miracles are not that far away, and it seemed that help was just around the corner for the little girl. News spread about her condition, reaching people in her community who could genuinely do something to help her situation – people such as the employees of RAPP, the main subsidiary of a company named APRIL that operates under the leadership of esteemed entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sukanto Tanoto.

RAPP Initiates Funding Efforts

RAPP was the only large corporation in the area to take an interest in the story of Nurul Aisyah and actually try to do something to help. The company’s employees quickly mobilized themselves to bring the news of the story to as many people in the community as possible.

At first, the fundraising efforts did not yield many results. Although another philanthropic organization and many people in the local community worked together to spread the word, it wasn’t until later that the money really started to flow in. Soon enough, however, Nurul Aisyah’s parents could hardly believe their good fortune when members from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and several other organizations and wealthy individuals in the region submitted donations worth more than 30 million US dollars.

As fundraising efforts continued, RAPP managed to ensure the entire amount was swiftly delivered to the family, and the little girl’s parents thanked them with tears in their eyes for helping their child have renewed hope for a better future.

Now, Nurul Aisyah is one of the few children who, with assistance from RAPP and other people and businesses who truly took an interest and wanted to help, is able to dream about a better life with her parents.

Employees and representatives from RAPP and organizations such as the Tanoto Foundation continue the fight against poverty in Indonesia to this day, in the hope that better opportunities can be provided for the future of children who truly need them – children like