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With few job opportunities when he graduated high school in the Pelalawan Regency of Indonesia’s Riau Province in 1993, Mahyuddin Pasaribu turned to illegal logging.

Along with a small group of local residents he would cut down trees and sell them to wood collectors.

But in 2002 the Indonesian government issued stricter regulations on lumber exports and stepped up enforcement towards illegal deforestation. Two years later Mahyuddin was raided by the Natural Resource Conservation Agency. Some of his equipment was confiscated and his business was closed down.

Determined to find a better way to support his family, he approached APRIL Group subsidiary Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), which was expanding its operations in the area, to look for work.

“I told them that I had not wanted to take wood illegally but that I had resorted to doing so because I needed to feed my family,” he said.

Mahyuddin gathered all the confidence he could and tried to convince RAPP to give him a chance. While he was pessimistic at first, luck favoured Mahyuddin and he was eventually entrusted to become a contractor for RAPP.

“We first began as contractors for the procurement of colt diesel for irrigation at the RAPP Nursery in early 2005, and we were also asked to create a business entity which later became CV Mitra Pelalawan Setia,” Mahyuddin said.

“We were shocked at first by the changes that were required, and wondered whether we were able to live this way. We were required to learn about the company and to learn how to carry out financial management. But thanks to the guidance of RAPP’s Community Development team and the training opportunities provided, we were able to do it,” he added.

Mahyuddin’s efforts did not stop there as he also explored opportunities in other fields, including loading and unloading at the RAPP warehouse.

The high point came at the end of 2006 when Mahyuddin received a contract from RAPP for the provision of water transportation in the form of pompong (small boats) as a means of transporting fertilizers and seeds for the company.

By 2012, the business had developed to become the CV Mitra Pelalawan Setia Company, which currently operates 45 boats and employs 47 people. The company has a monthly turnover of approximately IDR 250 million.

“I am grateful that my business is running smoothly and peacefully, and that I am also able to provide jobs to other people and pay them in line with the Regency’s minimum wage,” Mahyuddin said.

RAPP initially provided a loan comprising IDR 100 million to fund Mahyuddin’s business. However, he has since succeeded in independently acquiring a loan from the bank (totaling IDR 500 million) for his company.

“Since working with RAPP, my life has become a lot calmer, there is no pressure, and I have a fixed income,” Mahyuddin said.

Mahyuddin’s life has changed drastically for the better. He is now able to spend time with his family without any worries about their welfare or about how to fund his children’s education.

“In the past, I could only spend time with them once a week since I had to spend most of my time in the forest,” he said.

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