The personal experiences of Tanoto Foundation founder and successful entrepreneur, Sukanto Tanoto, have helped shaped the Foundation’s philanthropic approach. The combination of the challenges faced in his early years and later in his career has given him the belief that nation-building through philanthropy requires both the systematic creation of equitable access to educational opportunities and a sustained, collaborative, growth-minded approach to its implementation.
Faced with a school closure bringing an abrupt end to his education, as well as an ailing father, the teenage Tanoto entered the workforce. Through hard work, a thirst for knowledge, and the support of dynamic teams, he achieved early success; his keen business acumen had led him to make strategic and successful moves along the plywood value chain, and later expand into other industries and value-added streams.
The opening of new business operations exposed Tanoto to parts of rural Indonesia that are on the less advantaged end of the nation’s uneven growth and development. Job creation by the thousands would have been the socioeconomic panacea, but informed by his experiences, Tanoto saw it as only one of many facets of the complex task that is building a community and a nation. This view would continue to guide Tanoto Foundation’s philanthropic approach in nation-building – one that closely considers the endeavour’s nuances as well as the co-dependent and overlapping determinants of socio-economic progress.