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Kerinci has grown as a result of APRIL Group's presence

Just over 25 years ago, the town of Kerinci on the Indonesian island of Sumatra was home to just 200 dwellings. There were no roads so the only access was on foot or by boat, and most inhabitants made a living as fishermen or illegal loggers.

Today the town is home to over 100,000 people, it has a small airport and two ports, and its produce is used by millions of consumers in countries around the world.

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.

Education is a basic human right, but for the children of Tanjung Padang village on Padang Island off the coast of Sumatra, there was a problem: the only way to reach their school a few kilometres away was across a fragile wooden bridge.

During bad weather the bridge could be slippery and, to avoid the risk of falling into the water, many children would miss school.

Crossing the small bridge could take 15 minutes or more as the children lined up to pass one at a time, causing pupils to be late for class.

That’s all changed thanks to the village’s participation in APRIL’s Fire Free Village Program (FFVP). The community used their IDR100 million reward for successfully preventing fires in 2016 to construct a concrete bridge on the road.

APRIL Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tanoto Foundation and Riau University to invest IDR 28.7 billion in education.

Under the MoU, APRIL will build lecture facilities for the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

APRIL also signed a MoU with the Pangkalan Kerinci State Vocational High School 1, and the Muhammadiyah Pekanbaru Vocational High School, and will be providing the schools with educational and empowerment tools.

“We see potential and that’s why we are trying to create human resources which are better educated. In a business, human resources are essential and should be nurtured from the beginning.

“That is what we are doing today. We are providing education in Riau with an investment of IDR 28.7 billion,” said M. Ali Shabri, Director of Operations at RAPP (an APRIL subsidiary).

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