Sukanto Tanoto, whose net worth is estimated at USD 1.3 billion, has accumulated half a century of entrepreneurship experience and is recognised as a visionary business leader in the industry. Almost equally as long as his business endeavours is his philanthropic work, which has consistently run parallel to each project and operation.
This consistency is explained in Sukanto Tanoto's business operations philosophy, which in its first incarnation was "To do good for the community and the country, and only then will it be good for the company". This principle later evolved to include "cimate" and "customer". The core belief remains the same, because according to him, a sustainable business has to consider its environment and stakeholders. Because of this belief, Sukanto has often explored and fostered partnerships with communities, state agencies, NGOs, and many other stakeholders to create value for everyone. Inspired by his personal experiences and struggles in his early years, poverty alleviation and education remain key areas in his philanthropic work.
Sukanto Tanoto business acumen has been adapted into philanthropy. In developing poverty alleviation and education programmes in the areas of his business operations, he is able to maximise the utility of resources to create shared value for the community. This strategy of simultaneously creating jobs and improving educational infrastructure serves many purposes - alleviating short-term economic pressures by providing employment and educational opportunities and supporting longer-term development with improving quality of living, literacy, self-sufficiency and the many other opportunities and positive externalities derived from these developments. There has been increasing emphasis on creating positive multiplier effects - community, economic and environmental values that could be replicated and scaled.
This is where partnerships come in. When various stakeholders come together, each with their specific set of skills, strengths and expertises, they can create solutions, opportunities and outcomes that benefit the community and environment. Sukanto Tanoto's philanthropic arm, the Tanoto Foundation, has done exactly that. It has partnered various education stakeholders in teachers, principals, school administrators, government officials, NGOs and more, to develop capacities and capabilities to not only improve access to quality education, but to raise the standard of education in the country.