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Sukanto Tanoto, Founder of Tanoto Foundation.


Natural resource-based manufacturing has catapulted Sukanto Tanoto to a position as a major global player in palm oil as well as pulp and paper. Now the 66-year-old Medan-born entrepreneur is focusing his sights on energy and tackling the industry with the same zeal.

Sukanto Tanoto still has big dreams. Over the past 48 years, starting in his native Medan, he has built a global business empire stretching from Asia to Latin America, Europe and North America.

He is focusing on the long term, for a time when he will have left the stage. “I want sustainability. There is still a lot to do and I cannot do everything. My main job is to sustain the company and make sure it’s good for the country,” he states.

Sukanto Tanoto started his business from zero. He was not able to finish his high school education because he had to support his family. The challenges and difficulties in his life did not deter his drive to keep learning and develop his business. Sukanto Tanoto believes that every person should have the opportunity to realize his or her full potential.

Based on this belief, together with his spouse, Tinah Bingei Tanoto, Sukanto Tanoto founded Tanoto Foundation. The Foundation focuses on poverty alleviation through three pillars of programs: quality and access improvement in education, empowerment of communities, and enhancement of quality of lives.

Parts of this article are shared with permission from GlobeAsia. For more information on Sukanto Tanoto and his business journey, read here


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