When it comes to philanthropy, people are familiar with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet for their generous giving. However, nearer to us, few people actually know about Sukanto Tanoto and his philanthropies as he chose to be low profile about it. Sukanto Tanoto believes that given his current abilities and privileges, he has a part to play to help to increase the well-being of humankind.

Being an entrepreneur himself, Sukanto Tanoto shared that there are three types of capital in a business – financial, human and social. People are familiar with financial capital because it is obvious and tangible. However, not many people actually know that without social and human capital, financial capital alone will not sustain a business for long.

Human capital refers to individual attributes, such as personality, education, intelligence, and job experience. A central challenge for infancy stage companies is how to create value through your human capital, in particular the building of a strong management team. In Singapore, there is Human Capital Singapore (HCS), which is the national centre for Continuing Education and Training (CET) in the area of human resource management. They provide advisory services to help organisations enhance their human capital management, as well as career guidance and counseling services to individuals to increase their personal effectiveness. Organisations like RGE (founded by Sukanto Tanoto) is one of the forerunners in developing their human capital through a series of trainings, personal developments, mentoring and coaching.

Social capital is a quality derived from the structure of an individual’s network relationships—it is not an intrinsic characteristic of an individual. As the name itself suggests, social capital involves the society, it is the links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and so work together. More often that not, the outcome of such collaborations and relationships create benefits for the society.

Sukanto Tanoto established Tanoto Foundation with his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto, with the aim to alleviate poverty and improve people’s welfare. While doing these, they have unknowingly created a valuable by-product which is called social capital. Riding on the founders’ strong desire to do good for the community, building social capital is something enjoyable to them. Philanthropy comes out so naturally when it is done without expecting something in return.

Being a visionary leader, Sukanto Tanoto has plans to help in poverty alleviation via structured programmes through Tanoto Foundation. There are three main focus areas for the Foundation: Education, Empowerment and Ehnancement. As part of the education programs, Tanoto Foundation provides scholarships to students and teacher trainings to ensure that quality education is available for the students. Empowerment programs include facilitating the development of small businesses in rural area and vocational trainings to train the farmers in new farming systems. Enhancement programs include improving facilities in local communities such as medical stations, school buildings, supply of books in schools and other equipments.

Though structured programme is good, but we all know that there are special and immediate community needs from time to time in terms of natural disasters. Tanoto Foundation also provides financial and material assistance for the victims of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flood. These materials include clothings and food and are distributed by volunteers and employees of the companies under the group.

Besides the Foundation, businesses under Sukanto Tanoto are also operating with the good of the society in mind. Sukanto Tanoto believes that a business should be good for the country and community, before reaping the profit for the company.