It may seem too good to be true, but Forbes Magazine recently ranked this man, who celebrated his 42nd birthday on Tuesday, the countrys 27th richest person, with a net worth of nearly US$800 million.
While he comes from a middle-class family – his mother, Mien Rachman Uno is a popular businesswoman and his fa-” ther Razif Halik Uno used to work for Caltex oil company – Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno started his businesses from scratch, and made his” fortune in only 12 years.
Sandiaga joined the workforce straight after graduating from school in 1992.
In 1994, he worked for MP Group Holding Limited as an investment manager. In 1995, he moved to NTI Resources Ltd. in Canada and worked as executive vice president. Unfortunately, the 1997 monetary crisis hit NTI Resources Ltd. hard and left Sandi unemployed.
This prompted Sandi to return to Indonesia. Seeing no real future working for someone elses company, he decided to set up his own business. In 1997, he co-founded PT Recapital Advisors with his high school friend, Rosan Perkasa Roeslani, and in 1998, he co-founded Saratoga Capital with Edwin Soeryadjaya, another rich Indonesian featuring in Forbes list.
Twelve years later, Saratoga Capital is one of Indonesias largest investment firms employing more than 20,000 people.
In May 2011, he bought 51 percent of Mandala Airlines.
While most Indonesians in Forbes list amassed their wealth during the New Order authoritarian era or inherited their fortune from their parents, this father of two is the first Indonesian billionaire who made his fortune during the reform era, after the fall of Soeharto in 1998.
During this period, the ability to compete – rather than political connections – became the key to success.
He even beat many Indonesias big names, such as Ciputra, Mochtar Riady or Hashim Djojohadikusumo in the Forbes list.
Born in Rumbai, Pekanbaru on June 28, 1969, Sandiaga or Sandi Uno excelled at school. He graduated summa cum laude from Wich-ita State University in the United States in 1990, and two years later obtained a scholarship to further his studies at George Washington University, graduating with a GPA of 4 out of 4.
Yet, he remains modest and devoted to empowering his country-men. He is now known as one of Indonesias most active philanthro-pist, using his hobby of running to raise money for the needy, grooming farmers and small-scale enterprises while giving away money to finance these small businesses.
In a recent interview with The Jakarta Post, he didnt seem interested in talking about his achievements. Instead, he preferred to discuss the future of the country, expressing his concerns about everybody elbowing each other out of the way to accumulate power and wealth.
“We should change this culture [we have] of blaming and even knocking each other down, because in times like this, we should work together to reach our true potential. Although we are the [worlds] 16* largest economy, people dont feel it,” he said.
When asked what needed to bedone to advance the country, he said, “Indonesia already has many concepts, discours-es and masterplans. What we lack is execution. So. we have to just do it,” he said.
“I think we need to push through bureaucratic reform and law. Currently, the uncertainty legal matters as well as corruption hinder development, especially infrastructure projects,” said Sandiaga, who is married to Nur Asia and has two daughters Anneesha Atheera Uno, 13, and Amyra Atheefa Uno, 11.
In terms of education, for instance, he said national education had to be able to reach out to the business world, and provide what the industry needed.
“I support a move to encourage entrepreneurship in the school curriculum, which will encourage people to create new jobs. To become adeveloped country, we need 4 million new businesspeople by 2020,” he said.
During a recent interview with CNN, Sandiaga, who enjoys playing basketball, also expressed his concem about the countrys wealth being unevenly distributed, as around 40 million of the countrys
242 million people still live below the poverty line.
“Basically if we are not careful, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. The gap [between the rich and the poor] will bring about the next unrest So we, businessmen, need to make sure the wealth ls spread more evenly,” he said.
THE JAKARTA POST/JAKARTA