Sukanto Tanoto is the Founder and Chairman of RGE, a group of world-class companies focused on resource-based manufacturing industries, and with corporate offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Beijing and Nanjing. Mr. Tanoto started his first business more than 40 years ago supplying spare parts to the oil and construction industries. An entrepreneur and visionary, Mr. Tanoto entered the plywood business in 1967. Following this success, he ventured into other resources-based industries such as oil palm, forestry, pulp and paper, and power generation.
Today, RGE is a global group with assets exceeding US$15 billion, a workforce of 50,000 people and manufacturing operations in China, Indonesia and Brazil and sales offices worldwide. The group’s products are transformed into a variety of end products that improve the daily lives of millions of people around the globe. The business encompasses four key operational areas: pulp and paper (APRIL – Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Ltd and Asia Symbol), palm oil (Asian Agri and Apical), viscose staple fiber (Sateri), specialty cellulose (Bracell) and energy (Pacific Oil & Gas).
Mr. Tanoto strongly believes that a company can only be successful if it is a responsible corporate citizen. Guided by his principle that all business should be conducted in a manner that is good for the community, good for the country, good for the climate and good for the company, Mr. Tanoto ensures that each of his businesses undertakes responsible environmental and social stewardship by embracing and integrating the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) into its business. CSR programs include integrated farming training schemes which have changed thousands of subsistence villagers into self-sufficient and sustainable farmers. Other community development activities include small and medium enterprise programs to help establish businesses, vocational training, community fiber farms and social infrastructure support.
With a strong intellectual curiosity and a firm belief in continuous learning, Mr. Tanoto has not only continued his own education by undertaking management courses at leading business schools, such as INSEAD, Harvard and Wharton, but has also committed to providing educational assistance, in particular to rural communities.
In 1981, Mr. Tanoto and his family formed the Tanoto Foundation to help reduce poverty and advance human achievement. At the heart of the Foundation’s work is his conviction that breaking intergenerational poverty requires improving access to quality Education, Empowerment opportunities, and the social capital that support the Enhancement of people’s lives. The 3Es, Education, Empowerment and Enhancement have become the theme for the Foundation’s community development work. Mr. Tanoto’s own childhood experience of having to leave school at the age of 17 to support his family has caused him to deeply value opportunities to better oneself.
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. 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.
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