Sukanto Tanoto started his business more than 40 years ago supplying engine parts to oil companies. Today, RGE with its headquarters in Singapore, has developed into a global group with assets more than US$15 billion and employing more than 50,000 people. Its products reach Indonesia, China, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and its sales network covers the four continents. Among them, its businesses operate in the following four areas: pulp and paper industry (APRIL - Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Ltd. and Asia Symbol), palm oil industry (Asian Agri and Apical), viscose staple fibre (Sateri), specialty cellulose (Bracell Limited), and energy development (Pacific Oil & Gas). The core competencies include growing and harvesting trees, energy resource development, and transforming basic resources and raw materials into a variety of products that are sold in key markets worldwide.
Mr. Sukanto Tanoto embraces a 4Cs business approach: operating in a manner that is good for community, good for country, good for climate and good for company, as he strongly believes that a company can only be successful if it is a responsible corporate citizen. Each business group under RGE incorporates the concept of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) into their respective operations and management, taking responsible measures in respect to environmental and community development to fulfill the social responsibilities of a corporation. CSR programs include partnerships with local villagers, providing them with farming skills, vocational training and economic assistance. While offering work opportunities, the programs also encourage them to start their own businesses, significantly improving the standard of living in the surrounding villages.
Mr. Sukanto Tanoto strongly believes that there is no end to learning and knowledge is limitless. Armed with this strong intellectual curiosity, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto has continued his own education by undertaking management courses at leading business schools, such as INSEAD, Harvard and Wharton. In addition, he is also committed to providing educational opportunities to future generations, in particular in the rural communities, to develop their talents and reach their full potential.
In 1981, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto and his family formed the Tanoto Foundation with the intent to reduce poverty through education, empowerment and enhancement programs. The Foundation focuses on rural areas, where poverty is more severe. This allows Mr. Sukanto Tanoto to leverage his experience in building successful businesses in rural areas, which contribute to the economic growth of surrounding communities. Working in the areas of education, health care and disaster relief, the Foundation provides scholarships to students, honorariums to teachers, builds schools, distributes equipment and books. It also provides health care in remote areas and rapid-response assistance in earthquakes and other natural calamities.
Mr. Sukanto Tanoto is a member of the INSEAD International Council, the Wharton Board of Overseers, the Wharton Executive Board for Asia, and various other educational, community and industry bodies. He is a recipient of the Wharton School Dean’s Medal Award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the enlargement of the global economy and to the improvement of lives worldwide. Past recipients of the award include Chiefs of State, Nobel Prize winners, and Chairmen and CEOs of companies.