From his humble beginnings helping his father sell spare parts to the oil and construction industry in 1967, to being one of the wealthiest business men in the world, Sukanto Tanoto is now worth an estimated US$ 1.9 billion. He used his natural business acumen to continuously grow and expand his father’s 3 man operation, later entering the plywood business in Indonesia and setting up the company Royal Golden Eagle (RGE, previously known as RGM, Raja Garuda Mas) in 1973.
The plywood business was a success, and having established a presence in the industry, this was soon followed with ventures into other resource-based industries: pulp and paper, palm oil and the energy sector.
Sukanto Tanoto strongly believes in Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, which is why all operations of the RGE business groups must be “good for the community, good for the country, good for the climate and good for the company”. Sukanto Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Tanoto, have been actively involved in philanthropic work since 1981, officially establishing the privately funded non-profit organisation Tanoto Foundation in 2001 with the intention of alleviating poverty in areas where RGE business groups operate, through education and empowerment programs.
The collaboration between the Foundation and RGE creates the opportunity to provide local villagers with economic assistance, farming skills and vocational training. These programs allow and encourage them to start their own small to medium sustainable businesses, and in the process highly improve their standard of living.
Sukanto Tanoto’s best advice to young and upcoming entrepreneurs is not to act as if you know everything, but instead put in the time and effort to learn and analyse the best practices in the relevant areas of interest, speak with experts, and most importantly, be humble but resolute in one’s desire to learn.