Indonesian entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto, who directs the operations of RGE Group, a $15 billion family of companies, has long been a leading proponent of corporate philanthropy. He and his family have contributed to the long-term sustainability and well-being of the communities in which their operations are based. In 1981, Mr. Tanoto started the Tanoto Foundation as a means of achieving his family’s philanthropic goals.
Sukanto Tanoto’s philanthropic record dates back to the early 1980s, when he and his wife funded the construction of a kindergarten and multiple elementary schools to benefit the children of workers in the Langkat Regency on North Sumatra’s eastern coast. The institutions became so popular that the Tanoto family opened them to the general public and went on to build a junior high school, as well. Over the succeeding years, Mr. Tanoto and his family oversaw the construction of additional schools in other parts of North Sumatra and in Jiangsu Province in China. The family also supervised the building of an outpatient care hospital facility in Fujian Province, China, which was completed in 1993.
In the late 1990s, the Tanoto family – through its APRIL natural resource production company – funded a community program with a design for an integrated farm in Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia, in order to empower local citizens.
Following the inception of the Tanoto Foundation, a number of new educational and social service projects began development. In 2002, the Jin Rong Teaching Building opened its doors on the campus of Putian University, an institution of public higher education located in Fujian province in China. Moreover, in keeping with this mission of supporting opportunities for higher learning, the Tanoto Foundation opened the Tanoto Library in 2005 on the Singapore campus of the international business school INSEAD, which strives to be “The Business School for the World.”
In 2011, the foundation launched a branded lecture series to provide public discussion devoted to the development of Indonesian entrepreneurship. In the same year, the Tanoto Education Grant was established to support rural education efforts. Most recently, the foundation launched several major projects: the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies through the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; the Tanoto Initiative at The Wharton School; and the Tanoto Foundation Professorship in Medical Oncology at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore.
Sukanto Tanoto’s history of philanthropy will only pave even greater path for future philanthropies.