Cigarettes Company CSR: Sampoerna Foundation CSR Activities in Education

Cigarettes Company CSR: Sampoerna Foundation CSR Activities in Education

Download PDF: Kevin_Yulianto_Business_Ethics_R1.docx

 Kevin Yulianto

Master Degree Student, Binus Business School


CSR activities in Indonesia are still lagging behind other Asian and Western countries, despite the regulation to push CSR as mandatory for Indonesian companies. The greatest social issue that needs to be the focus of CSR program is quality education as the key to economic prosperity and poverty eradication. Various programs has been done by Sampoerna Foundation in the effort to improve education quality in Indonesia and the impact is positive to the society it helps. However, there are ethical issue among the program, such as the motives of the program itself that benefitted Sampoerna to affect the regulation, gaining popularity and acceptance in society as a cigarette company. Students studying with the aid of the foundation may also be more prone to smoking behavior and obligation to serve as Sampoerna future employees, the student loan also adds liability to student’s burden after graduating.

Keywords: Sampoerna Foundation, CSR, education, ethics

Introduction to CSR

In this introduction I’m going to highlight the issue of poverty in Indonesia and what stakeholders have done so far in effort to tackle the issue. Then I will elaborate further what businesses has done currently in its CSR program to reduce poverty, and how businesses could actually benefit from the increase of economic welfare.

To increase the welfare of society, social issues such as poverty and illiteracy in developing countries are the main issues to be tackled by both government and social institution. Despite the efforts to increase the nation’s economic welfare, poverty in Indonesia still account for 11.3% of total population in 2014, decreasing from 13.3% in 2010. Gross National Income also stands at $3630 per capita, well below the GNI of East Asia and Pacific. (Worldbank)

Reducing poverty and illiteracy is both the responsibility of government and businesses in their CSR. (Zadek, 2001) Today, CSR is mostly driven by Non-Governmental Organization, trade unions, consumers and shareholders, focusing on environmental damage, inhuman working condition and human rights. The focus of CSR by companies, however, tends to emphasize on what it shouldn’t do (child labor, violation of human rights) instead of pursuing positive development such as eradicating poverty. This tendency of negative avoidance is caused by the intention by companies to avoid reputational damage that may be exposed by the media instead due to improper action. (Jenkins, 2005)

Apart from international and national organization, businesses also take part in reducing poverty. One of the solution business do is creating employment for poor people by increasing the demand for unskilled labor, such as businesses in garment and tobacco industry, electronic parts manufacturer, and exporter of agricultural smallholders. (Jenkins, 2005) Even without CSR programs, businesses reduce poverty by creating employment among the poor, provide new market opportunities, contribute taxes to government that could be used to tackle poverty itself. Newell and Frynas (2007) argue that non-CSR activities are more significant in social and economic terms to reduce poverty.

Businesses could also benefitted by poverty alleviation by integrating poor people to the global economy as consumers in an effort to expand their untapped market potential. When the society’s economic welfare improved, more people are able to buy products manufactured by businesses, especially whose products are used for daily people needs. Firms that benefitted most from the increase in economic welfare and reduction of poverty are those producing fast moving consumer goods, beverages, cigarettes and soap. (Pralahad, 2004)

Business Ethics and CSR in Indonesia

In this section I discussed the regulation regarding CSR in Indonesia, involvement of businesses in doing CSR and their seriousness in tackling social and environmental issue. We also discuss how little pressure businesses got from community to have a well CSR plan and action. Lastly, we outlined how Indonesian businesses are doing implicit CSR.

CSR for companies in Indonesia is regulated through UU no. 40 2007, stating that the social and environmental responsibilities of corporation is a commitment by corporation to act in developing sustainable economy to increase quality of life and environment, both for the corporation itself, local community, and society in general. However, even after four years since the regulation, Indonesia hasn’t issue implementing regulation, making the law unenforceable.

Research in 2003 shows that only 24% of top 50 companies in Indonesia do CSR, compared to 41% of Asia’s average, 72% in India and 98% in UK. Breaking the data further into minimal, medium and extensive CSR reporting, 72.7% of Indonesian companies that do CSR did it in minimal ways, 9.1% in moderate ways, and 18.2% in extensive ways. The caused of many businesses to do only minimal CSR programs may be due to compliance motives only. It is found that companies operating internationally tend to engage in CSR compared with those who don’t, implying globalization may be the driver in doing CSR. Only 20% of domestic companies in Indonesia have CSR program, compared to 23% of international companies in Indonesia. (Chambers, Chapple, Moon, & Sullivan., 2003; Hartanti, 2003)

There is little pressure by communities in Indonesia that pushed companies to do CSR, as Indonesian consumer are very price conscious and tend to pay less attention to ethical standards in producing goods and services. (Chambers et al., 2003) Even in middle class families, little attention is being paid to the ethical conduct of companies. Awareness of CSR tends to be focused on investors of public companies, highly educated person and better-off families. The central theme for companies to do CSR is that in the long-term, targeting short-term profit by sacrificing environment and social aspect of business will lead to economic and social insecurity, shrinking markets and the depletion of raw materials. (DFID, 2004) Main CSR action done by most companies in Indonesia is through paying legal minimum wage or UMK, which is above the threshold for poverty. Equal employment for women also contributes to reducing poverty as the women who previously didn’t have employment now have monthly wage, giving contribution to family income.

Education as the Focus of CSR to Reduce Poverty

The focus of this section is to give background on the importance of education in social issues and why it deserves the attention of stakeholders in their CSR programs. It outlined the condition of students in poor families in Indonesia and what prevent them from getting a proper education. In the end, we discuss the reliance of students in poor family to funding from both government and CSR programs.

In Asian countries, education and training is the biggest social issues in the community at 14% of total issues, above 12% for environmental issues and 10% for health issues. (Chambers et al., 2003) World Bank Institute also state the main challenge of CSR is leadership and education development, as education is the key to sustainable development, economic prosperity, tackling unemployment and poverty eradication. (Psacharopoulos, 1985) Research conducted by World Bank in 2004 suggest that wage earner with completed primary school earned 75% more than those without schooling, and secondary school graduate earned 163% more.

In rural and urban area of developing countries, children are part of economic agent within the family; they do tasks that support household survival, this may prevent them from receiving proper education. (Anderson, 1988; Lockheed & Vespoor, 1992) One other prominent factor that directly caused children to not receive proper education is poverty, research show that children of poor family tend to not participate or finish school compared to children from financially better family. Poor children are also often malnourished, affecting their achievement in school to lower levels and cause them having to repeat grades. Although statistic shows increasing percentage of children attending school, there are still many who don’t have access to education or able to finish primary school. (Prakash & Chaubey, 1992)

Even after government action to subsidized primary education to be free for its people, cost such as uniforms, paper, pens, textbooks, transport, lunches, and boarding prevent poor children from going to school. (Lockheed & Vespoor, 1992; Nkinyangi, 1982; Chimombo, 1999) Apart from the financial issue that prevent children from going to school, quality of the school system itself have great contibution to the likelihood of children to stay in school. Students attending in schools with high quality are much more likely to stay in school and able to unlock the potential benefit of education than those in low quality schools. (Hanushek & Lavy, 1994; Wedgewood, 2007)

Actions to enhance the quality of school system and broadening the coverage of children going to school cannot be done only by government. Fast Track Initiatives program done by World Bank in 2004 show that external support for primary education in developing countries have to be increased from $1 billion to $3.7 billion, signifying that the dependency of developing countries on external aid will increase over the medium term. (World Bank, 2004)

CSR Program of a Sampoerna Foundation

In this part, we discussed about Sampoerna Foundation and why it was established according to the founder. We also discuss what it has done so far and the impact to the society.

Sampoerna Foundation is a philanthropy organization dedicated to create competent and good moral Indonesian leaders through quality education. It was established by Poetra Sampoerna in 2001, the third generation of Sampoerna family inheriting his family cigarettes company. He pledged $150 million of his family money as contribution to the development of Indonesia. In educational part of it’s CSR, the foundation gives scholarships to students with financial needs, train teachers and support school development. Poetra Sampoerna himself beliefs that the only way to cultivate leaders that could make Indonesia to be stronger and globally more competitive is through education.

The vision of Sampoerna Foundation is, “to create high caliber future leaders and entrepreneurs for Indonesia to meet the challenges of global participation.” And one of its missions is, “to develop high caliber future leaders through education”. Although the focus of Sampoerna Foundation is in education, it also contributes in disaster relief, job creation, and women empowerment. It is easy to understand why Sampoerna focus to tackle the issue of education in Indonesia, as we know before in emerging market the biggest issue (14%) is the lack of training and education and education has the capability of making structural change in the nation employment and economic welfare.

After the sales to Philip Morris International in 2005, PT HM Sampoerna is no longer a part of Sampoerna Group, therefore Putera Sampoerna Foundation is an independent institution in social business. In 2005, Sampoerna become the first and only cigarettes company that had awarded CSR award.

Sampoerna Foundation has awards over than 30.000 scholarships from elementary school to Master degree to students with outstanding achievements. Students awarded the scholarships in Master degree included those accepted in ivy-league university such as Harvard Business School, Haas School of Business, Wharton School, and London Business School. In 2007, Sampoerna collaboration with Institut Teknologi Bandung, a favorite national university in Indonesia was awarded with accreditation of European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Until 2007, Sampoerna Fooundation has given training to 8.000 teachers across Indonesia; this training was collaboration with Indonesian Ministry of Education. Sampoerna Foundation has also helped 10.000 students in disaster zone, giving 800 teachers in Aceh training to enhance the education quality, and managed to increase the academic performance of 11.200 students. It also provides student loan facility with low interest and free of administration charges, with whom it affiliates with 25 educational institutions in Indonesia promoting the program.

Critique and Challenges of Ethics in Education by HM Sampoerna

            Here we discuss about the implication of CSR done by cigarette company in terms of the benefit for corporation and public. Then we outline the critique of the programs and perception among such program by the public. We also discuss the ethical concern from the view of stakeholder perspective, Kohlberg stages of moral development, utilitarian, and universalism view.

Despite the noble purpose of CSR programs done by Sampoerna Foundation and the positive effects of such programs, there are skeptical party who believes that the CSR was done to increase the popularity and acceptance of public toward cigarettes company. Researches show that public tends to be skeptical of the underlying motivation of cigarettes companies doing CSR. (Maignan and Ralston, 2002; Sjoberg, 2003)

It is a common understanding that cigarettes company; one of many businesses operating in “sin sector” contributes to the deterioration of public health and poverty among the poor. For smoking men, cigarettes consumption is the second highest daily spending after food consumption. Therefore, in an effort to partly neutralize the negative image of cigarettes company by public, the company have to minimize the negative impact of smoking itself and contribute to the welfare of society. CSR program by cigarettes company is important to improve their damaged reputation, encourage employee moral and increasing the popularity of cigarettes product itself. (Dorfman, 2012; Hirschorn, 2004) In Indonesia, HM Sampoerna is the biggest listed company in the stock exchange; as already been outlined before a company must have CSR program according to the law of Indonesia, so doing CSR is not a voluntary option but a mandatory one.

It is still unclear about what are the underlying motives of cigarettes company doing CSR, whether it is a social or business driven motive, although certainly researches show various benefit and self-serving interest of CSR program to the company itself. The impact of CSR program by cigarettes company manage to win public sympathy by promoting their image through CSR programs in education sector, environmental issues and disaster relief. (WHO, 2008b) This good image within the public also give cigarettes company access to politicians in creating public health policy that is conducive to the industry. (Fooks, 2011) CSR by cigarettes company is very effective in influencing public perception that WHO insisted a ban on CSR programs in cigarettes industry due to their weakening effects on cigarettes control. (WHO, 2013a) In effect of the weakening regulation, cigarettes company could expand their market share and increase revenue through the increasing number of smokers. Example of such regulation prevention is the ban of public smoking and putting images of smoking effects on health.

Apart from the controversy between the motivation of Sampoerna Foundation’s CSR, let’s see who benefits most from its education program. From stockholder analysis, poor students are benefitted most from CSR program of Sampoerna Foundation, government and other companies even integrate their own program to Sampoerna Foundation CSR program, this helps scalability of projects to be distributed to larger number of people. Stakeholder concerned by educational sector CSR is the public, perceiving that graduating students are more prone to smoking behavior and may be overburdened by the student loan they took. Researches show that cigarette brand’s display had significant influence on smoking behavior of new smokers. (Spanopoulos, 2013; Henriksen, 2010) And among current smokers, cigarettes company CSR activities in Indonesia results in reinforcement of smoking behavior. (Arli, 2013) In the student loan program, critics said that the installment of the tuition fee provided that last up to 30 years is burdening the student’s future liability and deemed to be unfair.

Public are also concerned about future exploitation of students graduating with help from the foundation, they may have unconscious obligation to work for Sampoerna. Scholarship recipients from cigarettes company may be seen as a source of talented employee candidates in the future. This way, the company is training their future employee with the cover of doing corporate social responsibility. (Tandilittin, 2015)

Figure 1.1 Business ethic levels analysis

According to Kohlberg’s three levels and six stages of moral development, CSR done by Sampoerna Foundation may be categorized in level 2, more specifically in stage 4. CSR done by SF in considered as company way to comply with law, order, and norms in societal institution. As a cigarettes company that has adverse impact to society health and contribute to the cycle of poverty, Sampoerna Foundation may act as the balancing act to fulfill society’s expectation. However, the ideal of Poetra Sampoerna himself may be in higher level and stage compared to Sampoerna Foundation.

Using Buono and Nichols (1990) model of social responsibility, which classify roles of company based on its motives and orientations, CSR done by SF could be categorized as philanthrophy, focusing on stockholder model while doing their moral duty in society. On one side the company wants to enhance public perception to their brand name and associate their brand with public philanthropy, but the company is trying to be responsible entity by giving back some of its profit to the society. Analyzing further from utilitarianism perspective, Sampoerna Foundation CSR and overall past business activities may not be seen as the greatest goods for the most people. Benefits resulted by cigarettes company CSR underweights the negative impact of smoking in society due to the high cost of smoking implication to health and poverty. Universalism view will also agree because CSR was done using money earned by selling cigarettes. 


CSR activities in Indonesia are still lagging behind other Asian and Western countries, despite the regulation to push CSR as mandatory for Indonesian companies, only 24% have CSR program. Among those who do have SCR program, most are doing it only minimally. The greatest social issue that needs to be the focus of CSR program is training and education; quality education is the key to economic prosperity and poverty eradication. Sampoerna Foundation, established by Poetra Sampoerna, the third generation of his family inheriting cigarettes company is a foundation focused on providing quality education to students with financially needs. Various programs has been done by Sampoerna Foundation in the effort to improve education quality in Indonesia and the impact is positive to the society it helps. However, there are ethical issue among the program, such as the motives of the program itself that benefitted Sampoerna to affect the regulation, gaining popularity and acceptance in society as a cigarette company. Students studying with the aid of the foundation may also be more prone to smoking behavior and obligation to serve as Sampoerna future employees, the student loan also adds liability to student’s burden after graduating.


            Sampoerna Foundation may want to disassociate with the public perception as cigarette company, so that the students doesn’t have the unconscious obligation to work for cigarette company and may reduce the susceptibility to future smoking behavior. It may also want to ease the policy of its student loan program to limit the future liability of student receiving the aids.


Anderson, M. B. (1988). Improving access to schooling in third world: a review. Bridge Research Report Series 1.

Arli, D., Rundle-Thiele S., & Lasmono H. (2013). Competing with tobacco companies in low income countries: a social marketing agenda.

Bindu, S. (2013). Contextualising CSR in Asia: corporate social responsibility in Asian economies. Singapore: Lien Centre for Social Innovation, 97.

Chambers, E., Chapple, W., Moon, J., & Sullivan M. (2003). CSR in Asia: A seven country study of CSR website reporting. International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility

Chimombo, J. P. G. (1999). Implementing educational innovations: a study of free primary education in Malawi. University of Sussex.

Dalin, P., Ayono, T., Biazen A., Dibaba, B., Muntaz, J., Miles, M. & Rojas, C. (1994). How schools improve: an international report. London: Cassell.

DFID, (2004). Socially responsible business team strategy, 2.

Dorfman L, Cheyne A, Friedman LC, Wadud A, & Gottlieb M. (2012) Soda and tobacco industry corporate social responsibility campaigns: How do they compare? PLoS Med; 9(6).

Fooks, G. J., Gilmore, A. B., Smith, K. E., Collin J., & Holden, C. (2011). Corporate social responsibility and access to policy elites: an analysis of tobacco industry documents. PLoS Med 2011; 8(8).

Hanushek, E., & Lavy, V. (1994). School Quality, Achievement Bias and Dropout in Egypt. Living Standards Measurement Study. Washington DC: The World Bank.

Hartanti, D. (2003). Pengungkapan sosial dalam laporan tahunan perusahaan-perusahaan di Bursa Efek Jakarta tahun 1999 & 2001. Departemen Akuntansi Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Indonesia.

Heneveld, W., & Craig, H. (1996). Schools Count. Washington DC: World Bank. Technical Paper No.303.

Henriksen, L., Schleicher, N. C., & Fortmann, S. P. (2010) A longitudinal study of exposure to retail cigarette advertising and smoking initiation. Pediatrics, 126, 232-238.

Hirschhorn, N. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and the tobacco industry: Hope or hype? Tob Control, 13, 447–453.

Jenkins, R. (2005), Globalization, corporate social responsibility and poverty. International Affairs, 81, 525–540

Lockheed, M., & Verspoor, A. M. (1992). Improving Primary Education in Developing Countries: A Review of Policy Options. Washington DC: The World Bank.

Maignan, I., & Ralston, D. (2002). Corporate social responsibility in Europe and the US. Journal of International Business Studies, 33, 3, 467-514.

Moon, J. (2004). Government as a diver of corporate social responsibility. International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, 20

Murphy, K., Shleifer, A., Vishny, R. (1989). Industrialization and the big push. Journal of Political Economy 97: 5, 1989, 1003–26.

Newell, P., & Frynas, J. G. (2007). Beyond CSR? Business, poverty and social justice: an introduction. Third World Quarterly, 28 (4), 669-681.

Nkinyangi, J. (1982). Access to primary education in Kenya: contradictions to public policy. Comparative Education Review, 26 (2), 199-217.

Patrinos, H. A., & Psacharopoulos, G. (1996). Socio-economic and ethnic determinants of age- grade distortions in Bolivian and Guatemalan primary schools. International Journal of Education Development, 16 (1), 1-14.

Prakash, S., & Chaubey, P. K. (1992). Universalisation of elementary education. a simple general qquilibrium type policy model. Manpower Journal, 28 (2), 9-18.

Prahalad, C.K. (2004). The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.Wharton School Publishing.

Psacharopoulos, G. (1985). Returns to education. a further international update and implications. Journal of Human resources, 20 (4), 583-604.

Serpell, R. (1993). The Significance of Schooling. Life Journeys in an African Society. Cambridge University Press.

Sjöberg, G. E. (2003). Next challenge for communication management: CSR – a Joint task for academe and practitioners. Journal of Communication Management, 7, 3.

Spanopoulos, D., Britton, J., McNeill, A., Ratchen, E., & Szatkowski, L. (2013). Tobacco display and brand communication at the point of sale: implications for adolescent smoking behavior. Tob Control.

Tandilittin, H., & Luetge, C. (2015). CSR activity of tobacco companies in Indonesia: is it a genuine social responsibility? Online Journal of Health Ethics, 11(1), 3.

Thompson, A. R. (1981). Education and Development in Africa. Longman.

Warwick, P. D., Reimers, F. & McGinn, N. F. (1992). The implementation of education innovations: lessons from Pakistan. International Journal of Educational Development, 12 (4), 297-309.

Watson, K. (1988). Forty years of education and development : from optimism to uncertainty. Educational Review, 40 (2), 137-174.

Wedgwood, R. (2007). Education and poverty reduction in Tanzania. International Journal of Educational Development, 27, 4, 383-396.

World Health Organization. (2008). Tobacco industry interference with tobacco control. 2008b. Geneva: WHO Press.

WHO. (2013). Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. 2013a. Geneva: WHO Press.

World Bank. (2004). The fast track initiative: are countries on track? Paris: UNESCO.

Zadek, S. (2001). The civil corporation: the new economy of corporate citizenship. London and Stirling VA.



About Journeyman

A global macro analyst with over four years experience in the financial market, the author began his career as an equity analyst before transitioning to macro research focusing on Emerging Markets at a well-known independent research firm. He read voraciously, spending most of his free time following The Economist magazine and reading topics on finance and self-improvement. When off duty, he works part-time for Getty Images, taking pictures from all over the globe. To date, he has over 1200 pictures over 35 countries being sold through the company.
This entry was posted in Publication and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s