Sinar Mas Group is Indonesian company that has some of the biggest paper and pulp, palm oil, finance and property companies. His vast amount of wealth made him landed on Forbes list of richest Indonesians number 2. However, he did not start his business easily; Eka Tjipta Widjaja must go through difficult childhood, several failures and bankruptcy before achieving his position right now.
Difficult Past and First Business
Born in 1923, Eka Tjipta Widjaja or Oei Ek Tjhong migrated with his family from China to Makassar, Indonesia when he was nine. His family only carried 5 dollars and 150 dollars debt that must be repaid. His father later opened a shop and managed to repay the debt after two years, and Eka was then able to go to elementary school. After graduated, he started to help in his father’s shop by selling items like candies, biscuits and sugar door to door. Later, he expanded the store by finding suppliers for biscuits and candies, and earned more profits. Unfortunately, the Japanese occupation in Indonesia later forced him to close the store.
He later found new opportunities by selling food to Japanese soldiers, and took items like flour, rice wine and rice taken from the Dutch prisoners. He then took them home and sold them for locals. He later expanded his business to small contractor business by making tombs for rich people and selling coconut oil, sugar, and later traditional snacks. However, he experienced bankruptcy again in 1950s when PERMESTA conflict happened.
Starting of Success
His string of success was started in the 80s, when he bought oil palm plantation in Riau as well as refinery oil and factory with storage capacity of 60,000 tons of oil palm, and started his business by adopting the name of PT Sinar Mas. His business grew so fast that he only needed a year to buy tea plantation and factory as another business area. With his profits, he added his business by buying Bank International Indonesia, which at that time only had 2 branches and asset of IDR 13 billion. Currently, the bank has about 40 branches and asset as big as IDR 9.2 trillion.
From bank, he expanded to paper and pulp business by buying PT Indah Kiat, a paper and pulp factory, which now produces about 700,000 pulps and 650,000 sheets or paper in one year. Finally, he bought the prestigious properties of ITC Mangga Dua and Green View Apartment in Jakarta.