In early December 2014, the Tanoto Foundation’s Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series once again united young people interested in business careers with some of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Susi Pudjiastuti recently became Indonesia’s first cabinet-level minster to have never finished high school. The new Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries left her formal education as a teen and started her own seafood and fisheries business, now a multi-million-dollar concern. Her company, based in West Java, transports its products throughout the region surrounding Indonesia on its own fleet of airplanes called Susi Air.
Irwan Hidayat heads PT Sido Muncul, a family herbal medicine business that he took public in 2013. After modernizing operations in the early 1970s, Mr. Hidayat established research centers at several colleges in order to prove the efficacy of his company’s products. Today, Sido Muncul’s herbal medicines have gained widespread acceptance throughout Indonesian society. Thanks to his company’s success, Mr. Hidayat’s net worth stood at $660 million at the end of 2014. Forbes magazine currently lists him as one of Indonesia’s 50 richest individuals.
Sukanto Tanoto, ranked among Indonesia’s top ten on the Forbes list, heads the RGE Group, which he grew from a small family-owned business into a $15 billion international natural resources manufacturing powerhouse. Through the Tanoto Foundation, he, his wife, and their grown children give back to their country by funding a wide variety of social service initiatives, early-childhood learning projects, and scholarships and educational programs for young adults. Mr. Tanoto had to leave school early due to family economic difficulties. Thus, the Entrepreneurship Series’ mission of inspiring today’s young people to work hard, take strategic risks, and believe in their abilities is particularly meaningful to him.
At the December 2014 event, held in Jakarta, Susi Pudjiastuti and Irwan Hidayat related the struggles and challenges they themselves had to overcome as new entrepreneurs. The series receives additional support from the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics.