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Sulaiman and Muhammad Sarkawi were both born and raised in Kerinci. Today, both have their own businesses. Sulaiman is 38 years old and supplies coco peat which is used as a soil bed to the leaf cuttings prepared in Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper’s (RAPP) nurseries. Muhammad Sarkawi, aged 31 owns a manpower agency which he inherited from his parents, and supplies contract workers for companies based in Kerinci.
Both businessmen are part of the Tanoto Foundation’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) programme that supports people who want to establish their own small-scale business.
“Setting up your own business is not easy but when you have a guaranteed contract, it gives a certain peace of mind,” says Muhammad Sarkawi, a father of three children. Awi’s agency provides manpower for companies like RAPP – from janitors to plantation labourers.
“With a small loan from the program as well as technical support and know-how, I was able to build a small company,” explains Sulaiman, a father of two young children. “RAPP is also my key customer, which guarantees sales and revenues for my company. The training and knowledge of what goes into the making of coco peat is also important to get a grasp of, as on my own, I wouldn’t know and the company has very specific requirements.”
The Tanoto Foundation’s mission is focused on alleviating poverty through education, empowerment and enhancement. Its SME programmes facilitate the development of small businesses in rural areas, vocational training and promotion of microfinance. It is an inter-dependent partnership that fuels economic growth in the town.