Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series Features Sudhamek AWS

The Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, funded by the Tanoto Foundation in collaboration with the economics faculty of Universitas Indonesia, aims to be a strong weapon in the fight against poverty in the Southeast Asian nation by providing education and support for student entrepreneurs. This lecture series engages distinguished entrepreneurs as guest speakers to address the practical needs of today’s students and emerging business professionals. Through the generosity of Indonesian-born entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto, the series has hosted guests that include current Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

The most recent lecture series, held in Jakarta in October 2014, featured presentations from two well-regarded names in Southeast Asian business: Sudhamek AWS, the chief executive officer of Garuda Food, and Niluh Putu Ary Pertami, creative director of the Indonesian shoe brand Niluh Djelantik. The two successful businesspeople shared their secrets and their insights with the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series’ graduate program students and recipients of Tanoto Foundation educational scholarships.

Sudhamek AWS offered information based on his experiences heading one of the region’s best-known food brands. Given the fact that Indonesia’s infrastructure still needs to make substantial progress before it can facilitate consistent delivery of goods and services, he has faced major obstacles in implementing his corporate strategy. Nevertheless, he believes that dedication to hard work and constant learning are necessary keys to success. Sudhamek praised the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series as a means for business leaders to share their own early struggles in a way that will make the road easier for those who follow.

Sukanto Tanoto himself serves as an illustration of Sudhamek’s ideas. As a self-made entrepreneur who has pursued a lifelong course of formal and self-directed education, Mr. Tanoto places great value on learning. Through the Tanoto Foundation and its Entrepreneurship Series, he hopes to share the insights he and other leaders have gained, in order to support the efforts of everyone who has the potential to assist the economic growth of Indonesia.

 

Sudhamek AWS (2nd from L) with Imelda Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2014
Sudhamek AWS with Imelda Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2014

Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series Supports Students’ Business Endeavors

Sukanto Tanoto is proud of his history as a self-made entrepreneur. The Indonesian-born son of Chinese immigrant parents, he grew up in modest circumstances helping out in his father’s business. While still a young man, Sukanto Tanoto built on his father’s small company, learned everything he could about business practices and methods, and made shrewd strategic moves that earned him success. Now, Mr. Tanoto is among Indonesia’s richest individuals. He heads the RGE Group of companies, which he has grown over the years to a total worth of approximately $15 billion. By utilizing his philosophy of diversification and practicing wise stewardship of corporate and environmental resources, Mr. Tanoto has managed to weather multiple international business storms.

He concentrates on giving back to the struggling students of today through the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, held in collaboration with the Magister Management Program within the economics faculty at Universitas Indonesia – Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2014. The series brings successful entrepreneurs to present public lectures to a wide audience of students and would-be businesspeople. Through these talks, aspiring young entrepreneurs can begin to understand the entrepreneurial mindset, gain practical advice on starting and running their own businesses, and forge connections with notable leaders in a variety of fields. Among the past lecturers in the series is Indonesia’s newly elected president, Joko Widodo.

Imelda Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2014
Imelda Tanoto at Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series 2014

Currently, the percentage of Indonesia’s population working as entrepreneurs is about 2 percent. Studies point to the fact that, if a nation is to boost its economic growth, that is the bare minimum level of entrepreneurial experience necessary. Sukanto Tanoto believes that starting out young enables an entrepreneur to approach problems and challenges with a fresh outlook, large reserves of energy, and the free time necessary to create truly innovative solutions. By beginning his own entrepreneurial life so young, he believes that he was able to develop positive habits, such as resilience and determination, that fueled his later success.

In order to further the goals of individual students, as well to assist his entire country in alleviating the problem of poverty, Mr. Tanoto is pleased to offer the lecture series and associated educational funding and scholarships.

To watch more about the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, please click here.

Sukanto Tanoto – The Roots of a Self-Made Entrepreneur

Indonesian businessman Sukanto Tanoto, ranked among the richest individuals in his country, learned from an early age to prioritize hard work, responsibility, and charity. The son of Chinese-born parents who immigrated to Indonesia, Mr. Tanoto started off in business selling plywood products through his RGM company in the early 1970s. Now known as RGE Group, his $15 billion corporate family encompasses oil and natural gas products, as well as pulp and paper, palm oil, and a range of other agribusiness concerns.

Sukanto Tanoto’s father relocated from China’s Fujian Province to Medan, Indonesia, and began operating a small family business that sold the spare parts needed by oil and gas companies. Sukanto Tanoto, the eldest of nine children, was born the year his father went into business in Indonesia. From an early age, he assisted his father in the shop. By the time he turned 17, the young Sukanto Tanoto had to drop out of school to take over the business due to his father’s illness. Even so, the value of a good academic and practical education has been one of the driving forces of Mr. Tanoto’s life. He has continued on a journey of lifelong self-education in business and other fields. He has additionally taken high-level courses at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Young Sukanto Tanoto
Young Sukanto Tanoto

Building on his father’s experiences, the young Sukanto Tanoto developed an eye for detecting lucrative streams of income. From a staff of four, including himself, he grew the family’s spare parts business into a company with capital of $1 million inside of three years. His smart business sense led his company to take advantage of the growing demands on Indonesia’s oil industry during the global energy crisis of the early ‘70s. By his mid-20s, he had earned in excess of $10 million and controlled an international corporation.

Not content to confine his interests to a single commodity so dependent on the whims of the market, Mr. Tanoto went on to expand into timber products and palm oil production, often against conventional business wisdom in Indonesia. Although an old saying describes immigrant Chinese families’ limited business activities with the “three knives” metaphor—knives of the kitchen, tailor, and hairdresser—Sukanto Tanoto has developed his own business concerns in several sectors of the economy, and has expanded his generation’s ideas of what immigrant families can accomplish.

New RAPP Program Works to Minimize Forest Fires

PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, or RAPP, has initiated a new fire management program in the Pelalawan Regency of Riau Province, in cooperation with local government agencies that manage forest lands, enforce environmental protections, and deliver disaster response. RAPP selected four villages to participate in a pilot program to curb forest and land fires. Through this “Fire Care Village” program, a village that managed to avoid fires completely from July to September would be awarded a special bonus of 100 million Indonesian rupiah in assistance, the equivalent of more than $8,000 USD. Villages in which fires affected less than 1 hectare of land, and in which residents controlled the blaze within 24 hours, would receive 50 million rupiah.

RAPP, a subsidiary of APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited), is among the constituent companies of the RGE Group, the $15 billion corporation established by Indonesian entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto. As such, RAPP takes its responsibilities as a corporate citizen seriously. Following Mr. Tanoto’s business philosophy based on keeping the needs of company, community, and the planet equally in mind, the APRIL concessions in Riau practice a zero-burn policy and strive to maintain compliance with all applicable regulations and environmental best practices. Innovating to find new ways of crisis management (in this way is forest fire) is also part of the important criteria of a successful entrepreneur.

RAPP’s Fire Care Village program came in response to extensive forest and land fires that occurred in Riau in the spring of 2014. The situation became so dire that the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency. RAPP executives noted local village residents might need added incentives to take an active role in fire management.

Forest Fire Management

International environmental organizations viewed the spring fires with concern. One group listed more than 3,000 verified fire alerts on Sumatra for the period from late February to mid-March. June through September is typically Indonesia’s dry season, and the country saw very few fires during the early spring of 2013. The spring 2014 figures are far higher than those during a June 2013 fire and haze crisis on the island. Experts believe that unusual drought conditions in Sumatra in the early part of 2014 contributed to the problem, with the majority of the fires occurring in Riau.

Environmental organizations admit difficulties in gathering accurate data on exactly which concession boundaries any particular fire has affected. The situation is a complex one, and the solutions will require better communication between government agencies and companies, as well as better monitoring systems on the ground. RAPP continues to look for ways to take a leading role in fighting this shared problem.

Wood Pulp Industry Working to Develop Sustainable Practices

APRIL, one of the world’s largest pulp, paper, and fiber manufacturing companies, operates as part of the RGE Group, which is based in Indonesia and directed by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto. Sustainability is a crucial determining factor to the success of a company. In order to have a lasting business model, one needs to think of how to best develop sustainable practices.

Through working closely with a variety of interested parties, including a Stakeholder Advisory Committee composed of a team of independent experts, APRIL adheres to the highest possible standards of environmental stewardship as it monitors the fire-prevention, sustainability, and social issues associated with its operations. The company maintains more than 200,000 hectares of protected conservation forestland on Sumatra near its wood and pulp processing mill. Its Wood Purchase Policy assists in guarding against illegal logging operations through a tracking system and a chain of international certifications.

APRIL Plantation
APRIL Plantation

APRIL, and the wood pulp and paper industry in general, have increased their focus on sustainable practices over the last few years. Aware of the impact of any business that makes extensive use of natural resources, corporations like APRIL have begun to rely more and more on transparency and dialogue with local community groups in the regions in which they do business. With the developing world’s increasing demand for products such as timber and wood pulp, the issue of sustainability has evolved into one that affects the entire world. China, which has a burgeoning export trade in wood and paper products, is comparable to many other rapidly developing nations in its recent focus on implementing comprehensive reforestation programs in order to keep pace with usage.

Thanks to increasing government involvement and interest in promoting the industry, Indonesia has become a key player in the international wood pulp products market. The country had already reached a spot among the top 10 nations in the field a decade ago. With APRIL and similar companies taking more comprehensive looks at long-term strategies that make good sense both economically and environmentally, sustainability may now be a more achievable goal.

Sukanto Tanoto – Sustainable Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century

Sustainable Palm Oil

Sukanto Tanoto, who directs the work of multiple companies under the $15 billion corporate umbrella of the RGE Group, is an Indonesian-born entrepreneur who worked his way to success through his determined efforts and dedication to constant education and self-improvement. Mr. Tanoto continues to emphasize these values throughout his businesses and the philanthropic work of the Tanoto Foundation, which aims to provide educational assistance and to empower workers, students, and others in Indonesia, Singapore, China, and beyond Southeast Asia. In addition, he maintains a strong focus on the long-term sustainability of his companies and the communities in which they do business.

 

Sustainable Palm Oil

Sukanto Tanoto believes that environmental sustainability and a focus on the needs of all stakeholders are essential to long-term profitability and good corporate citizenship. His company Asian Agri, which is based in Indonesia, maintains facilities in three locations on Sumatra, partnering with local smallholder farmers to manage some 60,000 hectares of palm oil plantation land. One of the country’s largest such operations, Asian Agri, works to harvest its palm oil product in a manner that supports the conservation of the environment and empowers local farmers, as well as other considerations of the greater social welfare.

Under Sukanto Tanoto’s leadership, Asian Agri has delivered numerous economic, social, and educational benefits to its nearly 30,000 partner smallholder families. In addition, Mr. Tanoto has worked directly with Amanah, a smallholder palm farmer group, assisting members in earning certification in sustainability practices. In 2013, due to his support, Amanah became the first organization of Indonesian smallholders to receive such certification.

Recently, in an effort to encourage sustainable palm production among farmers, Asian Agri shared premiums or extra proceeds from exports totaling $220,000 with the representatives of Village Unit Cooperatives (KUD) in the Jambi and Riau provinces. The products produced through these farming methods have been well-received in the international markets.

Freddy Wijaya, general manager of Asian Agri, said that farmers have been encouraged to plant sustainable palm not only for the opportunity to obtain premiums, but also to achieve long-term sustainability.

European countries tend to favor sustainable palm oil because the production process does not cause environmental damage. Farmers have found more market certainty in Europe, where they have a wider margin and can cover greater production costs.

International authorities, writing in peer-reviewed journals, have described this type of sustainability entrepreneurship as providing responsible stewardship of resources, as well as long-term opportunities for worker advancement, in addition to the traditional entrepreneurial emphasis on profits. A concentration on sustainability also tends to drive companies in the positive direction of increased innovation in products, processes, and services.

Sateri – Award-Winning Supplier of Cellulose-Based Materials

As an entrepreneur, Sukanto Tanoto is always looking for ways to expand the business. One of the bold movements he took was to list Sateri on Hong Kong Stock Exchange. After calculating the risk, he went ahead to enter the market and without losing his focus along the way, Sateri is now a well recognised company, receiving awards for its success.

In 2014, Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group company Sateri Holdings Limited, a major international producer of cellulose products with manufacturing and production facilities in Brazil and China, received its third Asian Excellence Recognition Award in a row. The award, presented by the continent-spanning publication Corporate Governance Asia as part of its effort to encourage superior business practices throughout the region, highlighted Sateri’s record of success in corporate governance and investor relationships. Under the direction of RGE Group CEO and founder Sukanto Tanoto, Sateri works to maintain high-quality and environmentally sustainable business practices in every aspect of the company’s operations.

 

sateri_logo

Headquartered in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Sateri produces a variety of grades of highly pure, dissolving wood-pulp products, as well as viscose staple fiber, for an increasingly demanding market. The company’s Brazil-based upstream operation, located on 150,000 hectares of land farmed by freeholders, consists of a plantation sustaining renewable eucalyptus growth, as well as a wood-pulp mill. In China, Sateri’s downstream production facility processes dissolving wood pulp into viscose staple fiber.

Sateri wood pulp and viscose products are frequently used in nail polish, lip gloss, shaving cream, high-performing automobile tires, baby wipes and other personal care and sanitary products, and a variety of textiles. Sateri viscose adds body to cosmetics, color and quality to fabrics, and stability to heavy-use products. In addition, Sateri products create thicker ice cream without adding unwanted extra calories, and thicken paints while keeping them easy to brush on surfaces.

Being a socially responsible entrepreneur, Sateri and Sukanto Tanoto demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the environment by adhering to all relevant local and regional official regulations and striving for the highest possible quality in corporate social responsibility. For example, Sateri’s Brazil-based mill incorporates cutting-edge design standards and includes a chemical recovery operation that recycles as much as 95 percent of all chemicals utilized in the manufacturing process. The company’s Chinese and Brazilian facilities have received ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.