Since Sukanto Tanoto was young, he knew the importance of “getting along with the public”. Although Kerinci is located in a rather remote place, Sukanto Tanoto has to handle the relationship between him and the local people well so as to build the world’s best pulp and paper mill there. He tried his best to help the local people overcome their difficulties in life, find jobs, improve their standards of living and enhance their capacity to support themselves. “Good for the people, good for the countries in which we operate, and good for the company”, this management philosophy emerged from such a background.
“After we built the mill, we considered assisting farmers with their production. Natural fertilizer is suitable for the land, so we taught the farmers how to raise cattle, and then utilize the fertilizer. Without being there in person, it would not be possible to conceptualize such a plan. Who would think that to develop large-scale operations, one would need to teach others how to raise cattle?” No matter where Sukanto Tanoto set up his operations, he would consider the well-being of the local people as one important part of the development of his enterprise.
In order to raise the income levels of the local people, they set up a dedicated training center in the community where their mill is located, provided training for the nearby farmers for free, and taught them advanced production techniques. They also formulated and implemented many community development plans at the same time, including the integrated farming system, community fiber project, support for small and medium enterprises, vocational training and education aid. Besides, they bore the responsibility of building roads and bridges, supplying power and water, medical care, promoting culture and providing other infrastructure for the community.
Only when something benefits the local people and benefits the country or region, will it benefit the company, and the company could pursue the harmonious development of man, enterprise and nature in a sustainable way. It is through the “three-benefit” principle that Sukanto Tanoto has discovered the successful model for sustainable development. Under the guidance of the “three-benefit” principle, all of RGE’s business groups make sure that they practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their respective operations, and fulfill their social responsibility for environment protection and social work.
After Sukanto Tanoto returned to China to invest, he would return to survey his hometown every year. Every time when he came back, he would observe carefully the living conditions of the local people, especially the development of the local community. He would always enquire if there were any effective public welfare projects, and he always considered doing something for his hometown. So far, he has donated a total of RMB 200 million to education, empowerment, culture, disaster relief and other public affairs.
Sukanto Tanoto has won many praises and awards but in the face of these honors, Sukanto Tanoto remains down to earth. “These honors are only an affirmation of our efforts for so many years. What we feel more is the responsibility we should bear. One’s success requires a certain opportunity. There are lots of clever people in the world, but if they don’t have good opportunities, it is hard for them to become successful. Therefore, after we become successful, we should take out some money to do some significant things to the society and repay the society”, he said.