Empowering the Community: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Improves Lives Through Scholarships

Sukanto Tanoto is a staunch believer in education; in its power to enhance and empower lives, and the need to be a lifelong learner to stay ahead. Despite all of his successes – he is after all, chairman and founder of RGE, which manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas – it has remained one of his passions. In part, it is a passion borne from the disruption of his education at the age of seventeen. Far from dampening his desire to learn, it has made him a more voracious and motivated learner. Not only has he taught himself English by translating Readers’ Digest and Newsweek, he has also undergone further studies at one of the world’s top business schools, INSEAD.

Turning passion into a cause

More than just a spirited learner, the billionaire entrepreneur is also adamant that no one else should ever have to suffer the same fate as he had as a seventeen year-old. Through Tanoto Foundation, the philanthropic foundation he founded with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto, they have dedicated time, effort, and resources into educating, empowering, and enhancing the quality of lives to alleviate poverty. Even for his companies, Sukanto Tanoto has worked hard to ensure his companies do their part too.

Empowering the Community: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Improves Lives Through Scholarships

Effendi’s dream, APRIL’s mission

PT RAPP, the Indonesian operations arm of APRIL, has been active in this regard. A staunch supporter of the country’s brightest young talents, RAPP offers scholarships to deserving young students. 25 year-old Effendi is one beneficiary of APRIL’s help. Coming from a poor family in Riau’s countryside, Effendi worked hard in school in the hopes of improving his family’s financial circumstances.

His determination wasn’t in vain, and APRIL soon recognised his potential. It was enough for the pulp and paper giant to offer him a scholarship back in 2011. Since then, Effendi has only gone from strength to strength. Graduating from Yogyakarta-based agriculture college Institut Pertanian Stiper (Instiper), today he is a researcher at RAPP. He focuses on peatland research, a vital aspect of the sustainable peatland management philosophy that Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL espouses.

Safe to say, Effendi has made the right choice in accepting RAPP’s scholarship years ago. Not only is he not required to pay back for the scholarship, he is now able to support his parents and siblings.

The Books We Read as Children: Sukanto Tanoto Encourages Education Through Tanoto Education

Sukanto Tanoto is a firm believer in education. The self-proclaimed lifelong leaner is mostly known as the founder and chairman of RGE, which manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri and Pacific Oil and Gas. Less know about his difficult beginnings; he was forced to give up his education when he was seventeen, to take over his family’s business. It remains a big regret of the billionaire entrepreneur, whose companies collectively employ 60,000 people and own assets worth US$18 billion.

Unfulfilled dreams turn into motivation

His inability to complete his education shaped his passion for philanthropy, and he has been actively within it. Through Tanoto Foundation, which he founded with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto, he sought to educate, empower, and enhance the quality of lives of the unfortunate. Sukanto Tanoto knows that education has and always will be a driver of change, and is fully behind any intiative to promote it. A good education is important, but often out of reach for the poor. Often, children suffer the same fate Sukanto Tanoto experienced, in having an education cut short. It is an experience he is determined to prevent anyone else from suffering.

Tanoto Foundation makes it easier to read

To this end, Tanoto Foundation most recently conducted reading programes from their Pelita Pustaka initiative for the children of SDN 013 Simpang Sigaruntung. The event was organised in conjunction with PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary. The programme aimed to introduce reading as a passion to children early, in the hope that they may develop the passion for reading early. This time round, thousands of books were distributed to schools in the Inuman-Cerenti sub-district.

The Books We Read as Children: Sukanto Tanoto Encourages Education Through Tanoto Education

Such activities according to Estate Manager for PT RAPP, Jordan Valioano, should hopefully motivate children to develop an interest in reading. Even in the digital age, he stressed, reading should and must be campaigned for. He further added, saying, “Tanoto Foundation and RAPP will continue to support this activity for the advancement of education in the region.”

The aid of organisations like Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL and Tanoto Foundation remain all the more important. In a world where companies are allowed to become bigger and bigger, they retain their social license to operate only by  fulfilling their duty to the communities they operate in. It is therefore heartening to see businessmen like Sukanto Tanoto who still believe in doing the right thing. The 68 year old strongly believes in doing good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company, something he calls the 5Cs. Thankfully, it is something he insists all his companies do to.

It’s a Green Day – Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asia Symbol celebrates world environment day

Sukanto Tanoto’s resource-manufacturing empire has proven time and again it can handle the balancing act between profits and sustainability. With over 18 billion dollars worth of assets and 60,000 employees, few companies are its equal. Sukanto Tanoto is the chairman of RGE, which manages some of the biggest names in the resource industry like APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. With 50 years of experience in the industry, it seems the experienced businessman has found the secret formula to maintaining a balance between the climate and the profits.

Creating good right from the start

Indeed, it is an idea so vital to Sukanto Tanoto’s success that he has it as part of his business philosophy. The 5Cs, ubiquitous throughout all his businesses, focus on creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company. Sukanto Tanoto has made it an integral part of his operations, and made it the compass by which every decision is made. It is an arrangement that has created much good for his companies, with his companies now becoming lauded for their conservation and protection efforts.

It’s a Green Day – Under Sukanto Tanoto, Asia Symbol celebrates world environment day

Asia Symbol plays its part

Most recently, Asia Symbol employees took part in the 46th ‘World Environment Day’ held in ShanDong, Rizhao. The event, organised by multiple government agencies in the region, celebrated the environment through various activities. Most noticeably, the event presented awards to 15 Asia Symbol employees in the category for ‘Excellent Environmental Protection Volunteers in Dong Gang District in 2016’. Chairman of the Asia Symbol Volunteer Association, Zhou WenLong, was on hand to speak about the need to continue caring for the environment, and building a beautiful home.



Securing the Future, One Book at a Time: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Tanoto Foundation Sparks Interest in Reading

Sukanto Tanoto is undoubtedly one of the success stories of our time. The 68 year old, dubbed the resource king of Asia, built an empire worth over 15 billion dollars in assets in 50 years – his personal wealth alone is estimated to be about 2 billion dollars. He is the current chairman of RGE, which manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, Pacific Oil and Gas – all of which he founded. That he achieved all of this is impressive in itself. That he started everything as a seventeen year old without a completing his education, is reminiscent of a classic rags-to-riches, fairytale story come true.

Sukanto Tanoto Turns Regret into Motivation


Securing the Future, One Book at a Time: Under Sukanto Tanoto, Tanoto Foundation Sparks Interest in Reading

For all his success, Sukanto Tanoto has often mentioned that his interrupted education remains one of his few regrets. While some would suggest all’s well that ends well –he is a billionaire after all – the entrepreneur extraordinaire continues to be determined to ensure no one else suffers the same fate again. To this end Tanoto Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his empire he set up with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto, has worked tirelessly to improve education and literacy standards globally. One way in which it has been doing so, has been through its Pelita Puska Programme, which aims to foster an interest in reading amongst Indonesian Children.

Tanoto Foundation: A Strong Track Record

The Pelita Puska Programme currently targets schools in rural areas, where information is often limited and facilities are poor. Beyond building and renovating the libraries in these schools, Tanoto Foundation also contributes materials to these libraries, and offers training to teachers who could go on to also become librarians. By doing so, Tanoto Foundation seeks to facilitate the maintenance and accessibility of reading materials, which would go a long way in increasing interest in reading and improving literacy rates. As of 2016, Tanoto Foundation has built and renovated libraries in 186 schools, and donated over 32,000 books, and trained over 1800 teachers. The fight might not be won tomorrow, but Sukanto Tanoto’s vision is slowly, but surely becoming reality.


Sukanto Tanoto – Indonesia’s Seventh Richest Businessperson

Royal Golden Eagle’s Desires to Go Green

With the stack of complaints and protests from people and the society in Indonesia due to the company’s operation that allegedly damages the environment, Anderson Tanoto, the next-generation leader of the company stated the company’s intention to work on the issue. This future leader of Tanoto’s business empire gives hope to the Sumatran environment by taking different approach to the environmental concerns that have long overshadowed the family’s business.

Commitment for the environment

Anderson Tanoto, 24, is now pledging the long-term commitment of the company towards Indonesia’s environment. He stated his willingness to reset the company’s relationship with the green activists who have protested and criticized the company’s practice in pulp and paper business sector. In a gathering held July 2013 in Kerinci, Riau, Anderson told the media about the importance to give second generation leaders an aspiration to become more interactive and value the role of environment while keep the business running. It is also one of the ways towards a better world.

RGE to be More Transparent

Tanoto’s businesses have suffered lots of accusations when it comes to environmental matters. The youngest son of Sukanto Tanoto is currently serving as an assistant manager at Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), which focuses on pulp and paper production.

In accordance to his statement, some business analysts said that Anderson is the favorite successor to continue Tanoto’s family business by widening the business focuses from pulp and paper to agriculture. As we already know, the pulp and paper business has become a regular object for the green activists to voice their protest because its business activities considered damaging the environment, due to the massive deforestation in order to get the primary materials for the production.

However, instead of remaining silent, Anderson took the chance to speak up about the company’s intention to fix the relationship, and avoid pointing fingers at the campaigners. The company has also prepared budget for Kampar restoration for about $17 million.

Sukanto Tanoto – Indonesia’s Seventh Richest Businessperson

Sukanto Tanoto – Indonesia’s Seventh Richest Businessperson

Being successful in establishing and managing his business kingdom, Sukanto Tanoto, the chairperson of Raja Garuda Mas (RGM) is listed in the Indonesia’s richest tycoon. According to Forbes magazine, by 2012, Sukanto ranks the seventh as the richest businessperson with assets more than US $2.8 billion or equal to Rp 26.6 trillions. Although his net asset has fallen by $500 million from 2011, Sukanto is still capable of recording fantastic revenue values, derived from his companies.

Beginning of career as businessman

The decrease was mostly due to the low estimated profit margin at one of his companies, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL). With his assets, Sukanto Tanoto also sits in the 503rd wealthiest person in World Billionaires List. Born in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Sukanto Tanoto accumulated his assets, worth of US $2.8 billions, through some of his companies with offices in some areas in Indonesia and abroad, including in Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Nanjing.

Starting his career as an underdog, Sukanto Tanoto continued his family business at the age of 17 by supplying spare parts to the oil companies and construction industries. After the death of his father, he took over the family business and managed to establish the main and foremost pulp and paper company in Asia. Not only that, Sukanto also managed to make his company enter the New York Stock Exchange, which makes it such an extraordinary achievement. His companies are playing in various sectors at the present, such as palm oil, paper, construction, and energy resources.

Lots of Hardship, Lots of Gain

Mr. Tanoto is capable to reach his position today through hardships and hard works. His mother’s strong character is the one that helped shape his character and led him to become a decisive businessperson today. In addition, Sukanto Tanoto also has a great willingness to help the community by establishing Tanoto Foundation, which focuses on the development of human resources in Indonesia.

Remembering the Past: From Zero to Hero

Remembering the Past: From Zero to Hero

The hardship of his past is what shapes Sukanto Tanoto today. His father is an immigrant from Putian city, Fujian province, mainland China. Born 65 years ago, young Sukanto was not able to finish his high school at the age of 17. It was because all local Chinese schools were shut down in the New Order Era by Suharto, due to his obscurity of hatred towards the Chinese ethnic people. He also was not able to continue his study to national school because his parents held Chinese citizenship. In this sense, he tried to learn Bahasa Indonesia and English independently, using the dictionary.

The Childhood of Sukanto Tanoto


Sukanto Tanoto claims that he inherits his mother’s harsh character. In his childhood, Sukanto often sneaked quietly to play on the beach, and her mother was not happy about that. His tough and bold character also plays important role in shaping his attitude in business. That is what takes him into his place right now.

Young Sukanto had a dream of becoming a doctor but he could not pursue his dream due to financial constraints. Instead of continuing his studies, Sukanto chose to continue the family business to sell oil, gasoline, and automobile equipments. By this experience, Sukanto learned business management and and problem solving skill. These contribute to his never-give-up attitude.

The Beginning of Success

In 1972, he started his own plywood company. He was the pioneer in producing plywood while at that time; Indonesia still imported plywood from other country. His ability to see the market’s potential turned into his first company, CV Karya Pelita, which is then changed its name into PT Raja Garuda Mas (RGM). Once he succeeded with his first business, Sukanto Tanoto established other business in various sectors; now, he owns more than 10 companies in Indonesia and abroad countries. His struggles against poverty; and hardship turns him from zero to hero.

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business: Final Part

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business: Final Part

Still in the series of posts about Sukanto Tanoto’s keys to success in business, the recent post focuses on his “think, act, learn, read, listen, and see,” principles. He thinks two steps ahead his competitors. He acts immediately to realize his visions. He learns from mistakes. He reads every kind of books. He listens to what people say about his business, and he sees the condition of other people surrounding his business enterprises.

A Lifetime Student

Having been successful in running his business does not make the man, who can speak in both English and Mandarin, satisfied with himself. He keeps seeking for more knowledge and learning new trends in business. This is evident from the fact that he ever took a course in Insead, Paris. He was also a regular member of a Management Education and Development Institution in Jakarta.

Even currently, he often takes a leave to participate in short course or seasonal course. “I have another career in my life: a lifetime student,” he said. One time, he took a three-week course in Harvard, another time in Tokyo, or in London School of Economic. “If I don’t know about something, I find the answer by asking to the expert,” he said further.

“Do the right thing, do the thing right”

This is another principle Sukanto Tanoto always holds in every aspect of his business. “Do the right thing” refers to how he manages his business. He utilizes and develops the existing resources. He is responsive to the changing market demands, and he is responsible to the environment and the society. “Do the thing right” means that he puts emphasis on immediate action. “Never waste your time in futile; do the thing right by listening and getting involved in it,” he said. Finally, Sukanto Tanoto is never interested in confusing business and politics. This shows that he is a pure businessperson and that is why he succeeds.

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business, Part 2

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business, Part 2

The previous post discussed that three of Sukanto Tanoto’s keys to success are eagerness to read, learning by doing, and creativity to find opportunities other people may not recognize. In fact, Sukanto Tanoto still has some other keys to success in his business “think, act, learn, read, hear, and see”. They include competition strategy and learning from mistakes.

Two Steps Ahead the Competitors

This is the competition strategy applied by Sukanto Tanoto. “I take two steps ahead before other people think about an opportunity.” He successfully applied this competition strategy when he established palm tree plantation in Sumatera. At the time he established the company, there was no large-scale private plantation in Sumatra, even though there had been some large-scale foreign plantations there. When the other investors followed his path, his business has been established.

Learning from mistakes

Even a successful businessperson is not free from mistakes. The same thing applies for Sukanto Tanoto. However, for him, mistake is no something to regret. Instead, it is something to learn from. He admitted that he made a mistake in running PT. Inti Indorayon Utama (IIU). The company focuses in reforestation to produce pulp, paper, and rayon. It also supplied superior seeds of pulp-producing timber. The company was subject to rejection from the surrounding society and environmental activists due to alleged pollution on Toba Lake. As a result, UII was temporarily shut off.

Sukanto Tanoto got meaningful learning from the mistake and he promised not to do the same mistake in the future. He proved it when establishing his second pulp company in Riau – PT. Riau Pulp, one of the world’s largest pulp factories. To minimize the risk of public rejection, he works with non-governmental organizations to design a community development program for the surrounding community. What we did was “giving the seeds and we educate the community on how to cultivate them in a proper way.”

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business, Part 1

Sukanto Tanoto’s Keys to Success in Business

One of the richest businesspersons in Indonesia, with investments in more than 10 countries in the world, Sukanto Tanoto was not born and grown up in a wealthy family. His father, Amin Tanoto, passed away when Sukanto Tanoto was 18 years old. After his father’s death, as the oldest child in his family, he then received the burden to support his family. It was another reason for him to quit going to school, in addition to disadvantageous government’s decision at that time.

The question is how could he become a rich person without formal education? The following are some keys to Sukanto Tanoto’s success in business.

  • Reading every time possible; since his father was still alive and he was still going to school. Sukanto Tanoto spent much time reading, while helping his father selling fuel oil, gasoline, or automobile spare part. He has been reading much since the age of twelve; he read any books, including those about American Revolution and World War I and Two. Later, he is interested in finding out how the American companies survive the Great Revolution and the World War.
  • Learning by doing, he learned business for the first time from how his father managed the family business. He learned how his father dealt with various challenges; and he learned not to give up to any kinds of problems and to find the right solution.
  • Being smart in looking for any opportunities, Sukanto Tanoto was smart in looking for opportunities other people might not think of. For instance, when plywood import from Singapore disappeared in North Sumatera at the beginning of 1970s, he thought that it must not have been a problem since Indonesia is rich in timber. “If we have much plywood, why should be depend upon import from another country?” he said.

Sukanto Tanoto is an example of rich businessperson who began his business from zero point. He did not inherit his wealth. These are only three keys to his success in business. More will be discussed in the next post.