Chip Off the Old Block: Anderson Tanoto Carrries on with the Good Work

Sukanto Tanoto is one of Asia’s most successful entrepreneurs, a reminder of what can happen with the right combination of graft, will, and ambition. The billionaire founder of APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas currently helms RGE as chairman; RGE manages the various business groups mentioned amongst others. With a business worth 18 billion in assets and a workforce of 18,000 employees, Sukanto Tanoto has undoubtedly been a bona fide success.

Sukanto Tanoto’s success becomes all the more impressive once one considers the principled ways through which he has conducted his businesses. The veteran businessman strongly believes that businesses can profit by putting the community first, and the 5Cs principle that he espouses is testament to this belief. This principle, which emphasises the importance of doing good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company, has unsurprisingly become a compass by which all his businesses find their direction. With 50 years of value creation and experience under his belt, Sukanto Tanoto’s legacy is rock solid, and looks set to continue through his son, Anderson Tanoto.

The rising star, the successor, the son

Chip Off the Old Block: Anderson Tanoto Carrries on with the Good Work

The youngest son of Sukanto Tanoto is a rising star in the business. The 28 year-old graduate of the famed Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is currently a Director at RGE, as well as a board of trustees member at Tanoto Foundation, the philanthropic arm started by Sukanto Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto.

Doing the right thing, the right way

While he may share the family name, Anderson Tanoto certainly took no shortcuts in his rapid rise to the top. Determined to learn the ropes right from the bottom, Anderson first gained experience as a consultant at Bain & Company, where he worked for two years; thereafter he made the switch to RGE as an assistant manager. It was a mark of his early maturity and vision, that he refused to be pushed straight into an upper management position, Anderson credits his success  to his understanding of the company at every level.

Today, Anderson Tanoto is masterful and self-assured, deservedly so; he is well respected for the many changes that have made RGE more transparent, efficient, and community-centric as the company moves into the digital age, which brings along its own set of opportunities and challenges. As Sukanto Tanoto celebrates 50 years of business, he is surely at ease, as Anderson waits in the wings to lead RGE through the next 50.

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Paving the Road to Success: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Fuels Local Entrepreneurs

Mention the word entrepreneurs, and Western luminaries such as Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates readily spring to mind. Much less emphasis or attention, surprisingly, has been placed on their no-less-impressive Asian counterparts. Asian giants such as Mochtar Riady, Li Ka Shing, or Sukanto Tanoto have often been overlooked, in part due to their proclivity for privacy.

Building a legacy for a lifetime

The latter, Sukanto Tanoto is quite simply a one man force of nature. Starting his first business as a seventeen year-old school-dropout (though not by choice), his zest and verve were clear to see. Combined with a sharp and entrepreneurial mind, there was only one way he would go – up. Today Sukanto Tanoto is chairman of global resource giant RGE, which manages several other companies such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas. It has only been through that entrepreneurial and fighting spirit of his, that Sukanto Tanoto has the success he may rightly claim today; his companies boast a workforce of 60,000 and assets worth over 18 billion dollars. While the 68 year-old is clearly an example of entrepreneurship gone right, Sukanto Tanoto is determined to ensure he gives back to the society from which he has benefitted, and has done much in this regard.

Sharing the legacy, giving back

Most recently, Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL was featured by Indonesian publication Metro Riau. Specifically, the company’s well loved community development (CD) programme – which seeks to help locals begin their own entrepreneurial journeys – was covered. One beneficiary of the CD programme, Budiono, was interviewed. Budiono, now the proud owner of a motor garage, was given a life-changing opportunity through the CD programme run by Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL. Not only did APRIL provide Budiono with training on managing his own business, the company helped Budiono with his applications for bank loans. The rest, as they say, is history – and today Budiono is yet another success story in an Indonesia that growingly entrepreneurial.

APRIL’s CD programme is just one of Sukanto Tanoto’s many commitments in ensuring that his businesses’ presence in local communities remains beneficial for everyone involved. It is in line with his business philosophy of creating shared value in a sustainable manner, and looks set to continue for a long time more.

Dreams Do Come True: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Helps Entrepreneur Under Community Development Programme

Sukanto Tanoto is a man who wears many hats. He is a dedicated family man, a caring boss, a passionate philanthropist, and a firm believer in community development. Some might even say that he could double up as a part-time philosopher. Yet people more often know him as the charismatic chairman and founder of RGE, the global natural resource giant. It’s not hard to see why. RGE is truly an empire; it manages several other big names in the industry such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas – the companies collectively employ 60,000 people and own assets worth over USD 18 billion. That Sukanto Tanoto built all this in just 50 years, only affirms his legend amongst those in the know.

Breeding success, together, for everyone

More impressive than his staggering success, however, is his principle-based approach throughout. The billionaire entrepreneur espouses the 5Cs: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company. It is a philosophy of creating shared value, one that Sukanto Tanoto firmly insists on. And his companies have taken heed too, with many community development initiatives sprouting up as a result. Consequently, individuals and communities have benefitted from Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy – one such example is Husni Thamrin.

Local entrepreneur soars with APRIL’s Community Development Programme

Dreams Do Come True: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Helps Entrepreneur Under Community Development Programme

Today Husni is a successful businessman who runs PT Nilo Engineering, a heavy equipment and truck rental company, with his wife Rohani. His company is a relative behemoth in the local area, with assets totalling Rp 100 billion. While he may have success today, it wasn’t all rosy for Husni. The 37 year-old first joined APRIL’s Community Development programme in 2001, with only his father’s truck to kickstart a garbage transportation company. As a result of the structured approach used by Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL in the Community Development Programme, Husni received both training as well as avenues to beef up the economic resources available for him to beef up his business. In addition to his natural savviness for business, it was only a matter of time before Husni would take off.

Today, Husni’s fleet includes 30 heavy equipment and 25 trucks, all of which are rented by PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary. He is thankful for the Community Development Programme, for having nurtured many other entrepreneurs like him.

Sukanto Tanoto uses his business expertise to help others realize their potential

Tanoto Foundation Scholars with Mr Willie Sia from Tanoto
Tanoto Foundation Scholars with Mr Willie Sia from Tanoto Foundation

Many businesses experience financial success in their field, but it’s important for them to realize that they don’t get there alone. Once a company reaches the goals that it set for success and begins to grow, it shouldn’t forget those less fortunate. Such is the sentiment of a few highly successful business owners, including Mr Sukanto Tanoto.

Big business needs to get involved in the community

It’s no secret that Mr Sukanto Tanoto believes in enriching the lives of others by sharing his success to the extent of being involved in innumerable community projects and philanthropy. He is considered a highly successful entrepreneur in his own right and has shared many tips on how successful business men and women can and should give back when they attain their goals. Here are just two ways in which your business can be economically and socially responsible:

  • Get involved in sponsoring local events. The Tanoto Foundation is involved in many local environmental clean-up events, student educational events and more.
  • Scholarships. These are a great way to give back to the community and to also ensure the future of your community. Without student funding, skilled and talented youth will never realize their potential and bring economic relief to your community. Mr Tanoto bestows the Indonesian community with many scholarships, particularly for inventive students or those with an interest in paper production.

Keep up to date with community events and scholarships hosted and provided by Mr Sukanto Tanoto by visiting the Tanoto Foundation website regularly. Students are also invited to apply for the scholarship program offered by the foundation.

Teacher Training Scholarships Elevate Indonesian Education for Everyone

The Tanoto Foundation works to support a wide range of educational efforts throughout Indonesia and beyond. In addition to its academic scholarships for college-bound young people of limited means, the foundation offers funding to assist teachers in furthering their own education. The Tanoto Teacher Scholarships not only increase teachers’ skills and knowledge, but also allow them to provide better education to their students. In keeping with the Tanoto Foundation’s overall goals, these benefits to teachers and students are a major contributor to economic growth in local communities and the nation as a whole.

Recently, two teachers who have benefited from Teacher Scholarships spoke publicly about the way the program has improved their lives and boosted their careers.

Dedi Santosa, a young teacher in a public school in Tanjung Jabung Barat in Jambi Province, Sumatra, began by describing the rigorous admission process he completed to earn the scholarship. The three-part procedure consisted of administrative paperwork, a psychological evaluation, and a series of interviews. Mr. Santosa had never taken a psychological test before, and he was challenged to complete some components of the admissions process in only a few hours. However, the financially struggling teacher, whose livelihood is based on honorariums, noted that his efforts paid off in offering him expanded opportunities for earning a good living.

A second educator, Myrta Andini, teaches elementary students in a public school in Sumatra’s Riau Province. She also found the admissions criteria challenging, but credits careful preparation with helping her to pass. Ms. Andini said that she first learned of the Tanoto Teacher Scholarship opportunity from her parents, and expressed her appreciation for the chance to increase her ability to provide a better education for her students.

Indonesian entrepreneur and billionaire Sukanto Tanoto created the Tanoto Foundation to help Indonesia’s people lift themselves out of poverty. Economic hardship forced Mr. Tanoto to leave his own formal schooling while he was still in his teens, but he went on to found the RGE Group, a now-$15 billion corporate family of natural resource manufacturing companies. Through his foundation, he supports education as a means of empowering the ordinary people who will increase Indonesia’s ability to compete in the global economy.

The Developing World Needs More Entrepreneurship Training

Sukanto Tanoto became one of Indonesia’s most successful executives through his hard work, ability to seize and make the most of business opportunities, and dedication to lifelong education. Mr. Tanoto heads RGE Group, a $15 billion corporate family that includes agricultural, forestry-based, and energy development companies. A former student at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Tanoto additionally heads the nonprofit Tanoto Foundation, which works to deliver university scholarships, teacher training, entrepreneurship workshops, and other services with the goal of empowering Indonesia’s underserved citizens and making the country more economically competitive.

Mr. Tanoto understands the value of public-private partnerships in fostering innovation and strategic risk-taking among new entrepreneurs. That is the reason for his foundation’s sponsorship of regular lectures through its Entrepreneurship Series. The series hosts distinguished businesspersons who share their knowledge and experiences with the emerging generation of independent business leaders in Indonesia.

The series thus aims to assist the rapidly developing country with the goals expressed in the recent National Entrepreneurship Movement launched by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In 2014, Yudhoyono went on record saying that, as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in possession of abundant natural resources and untapped potential, Indonesia is poised to offer numerous opportunities to entrepreneurs, who can in turn give back to the country by contributing to its ongoing development.

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrote of her address at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Morocco, and made points that are particularly applicable to entrepreneurship in growing economies such as Indonesia’s. She believes in the power of peer-to-peer networking and mutual information-sharing among entrepreneurs, as well as in the necessity of government structures that support, rather than impede, the formation of new businesses. Among Pritzker’s ingredients for a thriving entrepreneurial culture are strong public-private-academic partnerships, a level playing field, and access to sufficient capital for everyone. In addition, she believes that governments must enact strong laws that protect intellectual property rights and make it easier for businesses to form and dissolve as needed.

Niluh Djelantik Designer Part of Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series

 In late 2014, the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series once again hosted businesspeople who have distinguished themselves by their success in Indonesia. A project funded by the nonprofit Tanoto Foundation in partnership with the economics faculty at Universitas Indonesia, the lecture series has previously drawn luminary speakers such as Indonesia’s recently elected president, Joko Widodo. As part of the Tanoto Foundation’s goals of supporting individual entrepreneurial development and public education programs, the series strives to offer students practical knowledge based on the experiences of well-known businesspeople.

Niluh Putu Ary Pertami, the designer and creative director behind the luxury footwear brand Niluh Djelantik, joined Garuda Food CEO Sudhamek AWS to take turns at the podium. Niluh, whose brand is now available in fashionable European retail outlets, gained her love for style early in life. During her youth on the island of Bali, her family was not wealthy, and her mother routinely bought Niluh’s school uniforms and shoes several sizes too big, in order to economize the cost over several years’ growth. However, her mother also encouraged her ambitions, and sent Niluh to study business in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. There, the young entrepreneur learned organizational and professional skills through both study and practical, on-the-job training.

Niluh Djelantik Shoes
Niluh Djelantik Shoes

Her lecture to the Tanoto group of student entrepreneurs focused on her experience as the head of a brand that it took her a decade to launch from one small local manufacturing shop onto the international stage. She believes in seizing opportunities as they arise and dedicating constant attention to improvement and innovation.

Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group of corporations, through its founder’s vision and dedication, has earned a significant share of the world’s business in energy development, palm oil and wood pulp production, and other manufacturing industries. Mr. Tanoto’s personal and professional focus on constant analysis, development, and innovation echoes the themes in Niluh’s address to the students. Through the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, he hopes to continue to assist emerging young business leaders with their efforts to drive economic and social growth in Indonesia.