As founder and chairman of RGE Group, a $15 billion corporation and one of the world’s leading producers of materials such as palm oil, forestry products, and other commodities, Indonesian entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto works to ensure that his companies meet a high standard of corporate social responsibility. As mentioned in the previous post, Asian Agri, which falls under tha umbrella of RGE, has executed Sukanto Tanoto’s philanthropy efforts and will continue doing them in the future; however, the example does not just stop there.
APRIL, also an RGE firm that produces close to 3 million tons of pulp annually, as well as fiber and paper products from its mill in Sumatra’s Riau Province, focuses on sound environmental stewardship and acts as a responsible partner with the communities in which it does business. The company directly employs more than 5,000 workers, with tens of thousands of other people indirectly supported through its business operations.
APRIL’s efforts to work closely with local small business-holders have resulted in increased prosperity and stability in Riau and elsewhere. Understanding that positive relationships within local communities are a major key to ongoing success, Sukanto Tanoto has directed APRIL to undertake an extensive program focusing on communication, regulatory compliance, and responsiveness in its relationships with community leaders. The company strives to ensure that its business practices remain consistently aligned with all current government policies and with the best practices in responsible forestry and conservation methods.
By working in collaboration with APRIL, numerous local businesspeople have found stable sources of income that do not involve illegal logging or unsustainable environmental practices. APRIL-supported community fiber plantations, which total nearly 30,000 hectares of land, provide wood supplies to the company through a benefit-sharing program. In addition, APRIL directs approximately $1,200 to support every hectare of land under its supervision; this practice alone results in the creation of at least 30 new jobs for every 100 hectares under cultivation. The company also continues to invest in skill development for workers in fields outside the forestry products industry. For example, its Integrated Farming System provides high-quality training in areas such as animal husbandry, freshwater fishery maintenance, and composting and other sustainable practices.
All these efforts help to increase the standard of living of the local community, empowering them and enabling them to enjoy a better living. When APRIL prospers, Sukanto Tanoto always remember to contribute to the community such that the community prospers together with the company. Benefits to the company should never be done at the expense of the community and people.