APRIL Pioneers Holistic Strategies for Fire Control

Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), one of the many companies operating under the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) corporate group headed by Sukanto Tanoto, has embraced a zero-burn policy on its wood pulp-producing plantation lands in Indonesia since its inception in the mid-1990s. Following Mr. Tanoto’s direction, all of RGE Group’s natural resources manufacturing companies strive to implement best practices in conservation and land use. In APRIL’s case, this has involved extensive cooperation on fire management with government agencies, local communities, and non-governmental organizations focused on environmental issues. In addition, APRIL has implemented wide-ranging policies and procedures that have proven their usefulness in reducing and eliminating fires throughout its home base in Riau Province on the island of Sumatra.

Taking a 360-degree view of the situation, APRIL has instituted high-level fire-detection systems, community education and awareness programs, and an innovative incentive pilot project designed to reward villages successful in preventing and containing fires. In addition, through the blog APRIL Dialog, the company works to demonstrate transparency in addressing issues of concern to local populations living near its lands and to the larger environmental community.

Unchecked fires on plantation lands have presented serious health, safety, and environmental hazards for decades in Indonesia. In addition, when the haze from those fires spreads across borders into Singapore and Malaysia, it presents a situation that the United Nations has elevated to the level of a world crisis. APRIL has made significant strides in addressing the problem through an investment of $6 million to provide an aggressive response to fires on lands bordering its own, realizing that containing the spread of fire is the responsibility of all stakeholders.

In addition, in November 2014, APRIL once again took a leading role by participating as both a sponsor and an exhibitor at Singapore’s first public exhibit to focus on the problem of haze. The exhibit was named “Haze: Know it. Stop it.” and sought to educate citizens about the causes that contribute to pollutant haze in the country.

APRIL at Singapore Haze Exhibition

 

Law Professor Strives to Understand Singapore’s Haze Problem

Simon Tay is a professor of international law at the National University of Singapore, the founder of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), and a former three-term Nominated Member of the Singapore Parliament. In addition, he serves as a powerful voice on topics affecting the quality of life for all Singapore’s people. In November 2014, Tay authored a piece for The Straits Times, one of Singapore’s leading newspapers, on his “personal journey” through the environmental issues surrounding the haze problem plaguing his country and the greater region.

In the article, Tay discussed the complex nature of the problem. Recurrent clouds of smoky haze originating largely from forest fires in Indonesia have crossed the Strait of Malacca for decades, blanketing Singapore and Malaysia. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to the respiratory conditions and other health problems associated with this type of pollution.

The rapid boom in natural resources-based manufacturing taking place within Indonesia’s developing economy is the ultimate cause of the haze, which sometimes comes from fires that ignite on plantation lands owned by large corporations. In other instances, small farmers, without a direct affiliation with a corporate partner, may set fires on their own or company-owned lands through lack of education about the environmental impact, or deliberately as the cheapest means of clearing lands for cultivation.

Attributing the fires to specific sources has proven difficult, even for experts, because of unclear demarcation of land boundaries on current maps, as well as the limited technological means for verifying details about the causes of the fires.

Tay has long maintained a deep concern about the transnational haze problem. When it came most prominently to his attention, in the late 1990s, the Indonesian government was in a deep political and economic crisis, with little ability to fight the raging fires that the United Nations had declared a global disaster situation. In the years since then, new national and international laws have attempted to bring order to the problem, with varying degrees of success.

SIIA/NUS guests in Kerinci with Anderson Tanoto and APRIL’s fire management team
SIIA/NUS guests in Kerinci with Anderson Tanoto and APRIL’s fire management team

On a recent trip to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Tay spent time with Anderson Tanoto, who represented the RGE Group of manufacturing companies founded by his father, Sukanto Tanoto. Tay wrote of his tour of lands under cultivation by APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited), the RGE company dedicated to producing wood pulp products, and by Asian Agri, another RGE firm devoted to palm oil production for a global market. Tay was impressed with APRIL’s and Asian Agri’s focus on containing and fighting fires in a systematic manner, and with the companies’ commitment to sustainable practices. As Anderson Tanoto pointed out, it makes good business sense for a natural resources-based company to keep environmental stewardship foremost in its planning. Without careful oversight of wildfires and other hazardous conditions, APRIL and companies like it would lose the very raw materials they depend on for their livelihoods.

 

Jusuf Kalla’s Statements during Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2013 Part 3

On the final post for Jusuf Kalla’s statements made during the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series on 30 April 2013, he touched on the importance of having the right attitude during the start up and growth stage of a venture. In fact, attitude is one of the most important determining factors to the success of a business.

In any start up, the process has to be gradual and step by step; and hardships will definitely pay a visit during this process. RGE, owned by Sukanto Tanoto, and all the companies under the group, faced many difficulties and hardships throughout the growth stage of the venture. These difficulties vary from internal to external situations and come in different sizes. Nevertheless, having a high resilience enabled the company to always bounce back stronger after every crisis it faced.

Jusuf Kalla at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series
Jusuf Kalla at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series

Jusuf Kalla also mentioned the importance of innovation. Taking a glance at the businesses present in the market, many of them started because people were not comfortable in a certain situation, thus, were forced to think out of the box to innovate and improve. For example, the number of retail stores such as Seven Eleven, Alfamart or Indomart in Indonesia has grown significantly because people do not enjoy going to wet market anymore. They would rather go to stores that are clean and comfortable.

He also pointed out that given the better access to information and the availability of technology at your fingertips nowadays, it is relatively easier for young people nowadays to innovate. The point is to have courage to be an innovator and not a follower. Most of the innovations seem impossible at the beginning however, many of them were proven to be possible.

It is however, not wise to rely on intuition when making a decision. Even though it is true that a good intuition comes with a great deal of experience, Jusuf Kalla advised that we still need to carry out our actions based on calculated risks. This is because as an entrepreneur, absorbing the risks comes as a package together with the results we reap. In order to do an accurate calculation of risk, we need information as the basis. RGE has also invested heavily on Research and Development to continuously improve on their processes and products. Besides this, there is also a bottom-up continuous improvement activities that enable employees to spearhead innovations and process improvements.

Jusuf Kalla’s statements suggest that he will ensure the availability of necessary technology and internet access in the nation in order to support and provide the massive amount of information required in a growing economy.

Jusuf Kalla’s Statements during Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2013 Part 1

Jusuf Kalla attended the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series on 30 April 2013 at University of Indonesia. Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series is a joint effort by Tanoto Foundation and University of Indonesia to prove that young people in Indonesia have the capabilities and potential to be a successful entrepreneur. Tanoto Foundation was founded by Sukanto Tanoto, an entrepeneur from Indonesia, Medan. His son, Anderson Tanoto was present at the event together with Jusuf Kalla.

Jusuf Kalla and Anderson Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2013
Jusuf Kalla and Anderson Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2013

More than just a hindsight, statements made by Jusuf Kalla during the event has many strong relevance to the current leadership that he holds, as a Vice-President of the world’s 10th largest economy by share of world GDP in 2011. Details can be found here.

On Entrepreneurship, Jusuf Kalla mentioned that even though the government manages, provides the facilities, and develops the infrastructure, entrepreneurs are the ones who build the country. Without entrepreneurs, the country will not run. This is in line with Sukanto Tanoto’s belief in running his business – it is important not to rely on special privileges from the government and use it as your main success factor. A business has to own a strong competitive advantage in order to outlast and outrun competitions in the long run.

Jusuf Kalla also mentioned that Entrepreneurship is an attitude that requires adjustments to a particular situation. Similar to Nike’s slogan, it is about ‘Just Do It’, because more often than not, when we think too much, it is not going to happen. JK’s emphasis on “Just do it”, flexibility and result orientation is aligned with RGE’s “Think, Act, Learn” and “Achieve results through systems”. Sukanto Tanoto believes that these 3 principles are the basic foundation of building a strong enterprise.
Lastly, JK mentioned that entrepreneurship is a combination of several key characteristics; one of the most important ones is to be logical. However, that does not mean that formal education is not important. As emphasized by Tanoto Foundation’s active involvement in the education sector, Sukanto Tanoto and all business under RGE are strong advocates of education.
With these understandings in mind, we can see that Jusuf Kalla knows the Importance of entrepreneurship as the foundation of the country’s economy and he knows that there needs to be a practical and tangible support provided to build the entrepreneurs landscape in the country through practical experience and education.

The Distinctive Entrepreneurial Style of Anderson Tanoto

The son of distinguished Indonesian business leader Sukanto Tanoto, Anderson Tanoto took responsibility for his own career and secured a position with Bain & Company’s Singapore officer as a consultant at a young age. Since then, he has developed his own unique entrepreneurial style that has allowed him to realize success. A member of the Tanoto Foundation Board of Trustees, Anderson Tanoto maintains a dedication to giving back to the community. Recently, he spoke at a tutorial organized by the Tanoto Foundation in Jakarta to encourage and train new generations of entrepreneurs. During this event, Anderson Tanoto discussed the entrepreneurial style of his father.

At the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series Event, Anderson Tanoto highlighted three key points for entrepreneurial success. These points are informed by his father’s successes and include lessons that he implemented to make his own achievements.

The first principle of entrepreneurship is survival. Sukanto Tanoto began building his business empire, the Royal Golden Eagle group, at the age of 17, and he persevered with a spirit that taught him never to give up on his dreams. Even in the face of adversity, he believed in himself and continued to move forward, despite setbacks.

andersonThe second principle emphasizes growth. For a company to succeed, it requires a solid infrastructure. Growth depends on a reliable core. Thus, entrepreneurs must focus a great deal of energy on developing systems marked by good governance and sound operational processes. When entrepreneurs pay constant attention to the larger business model, they can ensure that their company grows at a sustainable rate. Growth, of course, also depends on a great product. Entrepreneurs realize the most success when they aim to produce not just a good product or service, but one that is better than any other on the market.

Thirdly, entrepreneurs must constantly look for new opportunities. Once a company has become established and has achieved stability, the entrepreneur can continue development by taking calculated risks. During this stage, entrepreneurs can and will fail, but these failures are excellent learning points. Because of this, entrepreneurs should see failure as a lesson, not a mark of shame.