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.

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.

 

Agribusiness Conference Promotes Corporate-Smallholder Partnerships

In October 2014, the Department of Agribusiness and the Faculty of Economics and Management at Bogor Agricultural University came together with the Indonesian Agricultural Economic Community (PERHEPI) to host a conference on the benefits of close ties between palm oil companies and smallholders. The experts at the conference lectured and led discussions on the theme “Partnership Programs between Palm Oil Companies with Smallholders to Increase National Income.” Many of the best practices they promoted are similar to those Asian Agri has maintained for more than 25 years.

The conference participants noted that the growth of Indonesia’s vital agricultural sector has been hampered by the poor conditions under which smallholders live, although the labor and dedication of these individuals contribute substantially to the nation’s economic development. Many smallholders experience economic discrimination, in that they are forced to accept prices for their products that are predetermined by brokers. In contrast, Indonesia’s palm oil production companies, including Asian Agri, have maintained strong partnerships with smallholders for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Asian Agri, one of the RGE Group of natural resources-development corporations under the direction of chairman and founder Sukanto Tanoto, has worked to develop positive plasma scheme partnerships with smallholders since the late 1980s. Like other progressive palm oil companies, Asian Agri provides agricultural, plantation management, and entrepreneurship training programs for its smallholders. In addition, Asian Agri’s emphasis on environmentally sound business practices led its team to offer premium payments in excess of $200,000 USD to its smallholders in Jambi and Riau Provinces who obtained certificates of sustainability.

Relationships with local village cooperatives, as well as with forward-thinking companies such as Asian Agri, have translated into profits and a higher standard of living for numerous Indonesian smallholders. The cooperatives regulate sales and promote proper agricultural techniques, enabling the farmers to generate a steady income stream each month. The Association of People’s Nucleus Company the Palm Oil Growers (AspekPIR) recently presented Asian Agri with an award in acknowledgement of the company’s efforts to improve the welfare of smallholders, particularly those working the land in Riau Province.

 

For more information about Palm Oil Certification, 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.

Woodfibre LNG Keeps the Squamish Community Informed

Woodfibre LNG, an arm of Pacific Oil & Gas, Ltd., is among the ongoing energy and natural resources-related companies within the RGE Group established by Indonesian-born businessman and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto. Under the leadership of Mr. Tanoto and his daughter Imelda, the lead director at Woodfibre, the company is currently underway with plans to export liquefied natural gas from a port in British Columbia to rapidly growing Pacific Rim markets.

As part of its preparation at this stage of the project, Woodfibre is working to supply the provincial government with information that will factor into an environmental assessment, a necessary component for the project to move forward. Should plans for the project reach a final stage by 2015, the company expects to begin supplying LNG to Asian markets by 2017, making it significantly more nimble and responsive to market demands than larger brands such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and Malaysia’s Petronas.

In this and numerous other international development projects, the Tanoto family’s goal is to create long-term stability and profitability for both the company and the local communities involved, and to comply with all relevant environmental requirements. Woodfibre has held several public forums designed to improve communications with the residents of Squamish, the port town near the company’s proposed liquefaction and export hub. The forums provide members of the local community with the opportunity to question executives directly and to bring forward concerns. In October 2014, Woodfibre sponsored a “telephone town hall” meeting where residents called in to speak with the corporate team. Earlier in 2014, Woodfibre leaders held two community consultation meetings, at which they solicited input from all stakeholders.

Woodfibre Communications

Woodfibre also continues to maintain its Facebook page as an avenue for public inquiry and information dissemination. The company additionally produces informative mailings, addressed to Squamish residents, with updates on various aspects of the project. These practices also serve to apply Mr. Tanoto’s business philosophy of placing the wellbeing of local communities on an equal standing with corporate growth.

Woodfibre Facebook Communication and Socialisation

 

 

 

 

To learn more, the public may access the company’s website at WoodfibreLNG.ca, where the company has published information recorded at the 2014 community meetings.

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.

Doing Well While Doing Good

Apical’s Commitment to Forests Apical Group Ltd., one of Indonesia’s chief processors and exporters of palm oil, is part of the RGE Group established by entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto. Under Mr. Tanoto’s leadership, Apical has worked to show the industry that ensuring the greater social good also benefits bottom-line profits. Every entrepreneur should also be aware of the interconnectedness between social good and bottom-line profits. In today’s context, doing well in the business is not enough – every company should strive towards both doing well and doing good.

In September 2014, Apical announced its support for the provisions of the New York Declaration on Forests, a document signed during the United Nations Climate Summit held that month. Among other means of engagement, the summit offered an opportunity for the international private sector to discuss and promote business-based strategies for combating climate change. The New York Declaration includes a goal of cutting deforestation in half by the year 2020 and completely eradicating it by 2030.

The measure drew expressions of agreement from a broad spectrum of business and government leaders, as well as from indigenous communities, who are affected the most by the problem. Some experts noted that the document attempts to encourage businesses to build environmental sustainability into their existing value chains, and to realize that doing so can increase profits as well. Some corporations, such as Sukanto Tanoto’s Apical, have already demonstrated their understanding of these principles. Mr. Tanoto’s three-fold philosophy of doing good for the company, communities, and the planet is the guiding principle of Apical and the other natural resources manufacturing firms within RGE Group.

Apical maintains a membership in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and it is a founding member of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Singapore. The company’s history reflects its long-term focus on contributing to the social infrastructure of the communities in which it does business, and to pioneering solutions for food security and forest conservation. In addition, the company has pledged to monitor sustainability practices along its entire production and distribution chain.

RAPP Shows Off New Surveillance Quadricopter at Riau Expo 2014

At the 2014 Riau Expo trade and industry show, representatives of Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper demonstrated a safety-focused innovation. True entrepreneurship never runs away from constant innovation. RAPP always strive to innovate to create better products or processes that benefit the community, the country and the company.

Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), part of APRIL, or Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, recently participated with a demonstration booth at the Riau Expo 2014. RAPP and APRIL, part of the $15 billion RGE Group under the direction of founder and CEO Sukanto Tanoto, are among Indonesia’s most well-known natural resources manufacturing companies.

At the expo, RAPP representatives demonstrated the capabilities of the quadricopter, a new remote-controlled, helicopter-like aircraft that the company aims to use to monitor remote plantation lands. This is an especially important mission in the more isolated parts of Riau, where fires can break out and spread if unchecked, increasing haze conditions in the broader region. RAPP and APRIL have made significant progress in addressing safety concerns from environmental groups and local communities through their careful monitoring of fires and haze formation throughout their concessions.

RAPP organizers also provided information to visiting high school students and other expo attendees about its other recent initiatives, its community involvement programs, and current trends in the wood pulp and paper industries.

The Riau Expo, an annual event held in the provincial capital of Pekanbaru, promotes trade, tourism, and industry throughout the province, and also showcases the arts and cultural expressions of the people of Riau. This year, every available booth space was purchased, making the event a rich display of local knowledge and entrepreneurship. The networking opportunities at the expo additionally served to further new business connections and innovations.

Deputy provincial governor H. Arsyadjuliandi Rahman officially opened the expo, which took place from September 21st to 27th and commemorated the 57th anniversary of the creation of Riau Province. Organizers invited not only companies from the private sector, but provincial, district, and city government agencies to participate.

RAPP Booth at Riau Expo 2014
RAPP Booth at Riau Expo 2014
RAPP Booth at Riau Expo 2014
RAPP Booth at Riau Expo 2014