A hum­ble Man

Medan-based en­tre­pre­neur Hajj Anif shares his thoughts with Retta Ok­ta­viani Su­parli about how giv­ing back to so­ci­ety gives him a sense of pur­pose and hap­pi­ness

Indonesia Tatler - - March -

A big heart that gives back beats be­hind Hajj Anif ’s brain and drive

Hajj Anif is a man who ap­pre­ci­ates and treats peo­ple equally re­gard­less their back­ground and so­cial sta­tus. He makes friends with ev­ery­one, from taxi driv­ers to re­li­gious lead­ers to state of­fi­cials. Ev­ery­one in Medan knows him, not only for his sta­tus as a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man who owns palm oil plan­ta­tions in North Su­ma­tra and Riau Prov­ince, but also for his gen­eros­ity. As Anne Frank once said: “No one has ever be­come poor by giv­ing.” Hajj Anif sets a good ex­am­ple on how to live a bal­anced life through phi­lan­thropy as well as his hard work ethic.

“I started ev­ery­thing from zero as a farmer in 1968 and fought so hard to get out of poverty and be suc­cess­ful. And be­lieve me, I wouldn’t be who I am now without God’s bless­ings,” Hajj says.

His plan­ta­tion in Be­si­tang, which cov­ers 7.8 hectares, was his first palm oil plan­ta­tion, bought in 1982. Three years later, Hajj Anif founded PT Anugerah Sawindo and PT Anugerah Langkat Mak­mur (PT ALAM). In 1989, PT ALAM took pride in its plan­ta­tion and part­ner­ship man­age­ment agree­ments with its farm­ers, pro­vid­ing each fam­ily with three hectares of land as op­posed to two, as reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment.

“Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, my com­pany also had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide hous­ing for the farm­ers. I used my own money at the be­gin­ning, but then, thank God, in 1992, BRI fi­nanced the cost of land pur­chase, de­vel­op­ment, and work­ing cap­i­tal for the plan­ta­tion. For­mer Information Min­is­ter of In­done­sia Hajj Harmoko played an im­por­tant role to make it hap­pen,” Hajj re­calls. The two gen­tle­men re­main good friends un­til today.

Then, in the 1990s, Hajj Anif plunged him­self into other busi­nesses, in­clud­ing prop­erty, com­post­ing, gas sta­tions, and birds’ nests. He founded the Ce­mara Asri Real Es­tate in Deli Serang, Medan, in 1991, which was the first prop­erty com­plex in In­done­sia to house a 5.6-hectare bird park. “I wanted to pro­vide the birds with a habi­tat where they could nest and lay eggs,” he says. His deep pas­sion for na­ture is also re­flected in the pres­ence of a deer breed­ing cen­tre in the Langkat plan­ta­tion, as well as safe habi­tats for flora and fauna in ev­ery plan­ta­tion he owns. “I have around 1,000 deer now,” he adds.

More­over, Hajj Anif was the first to set up a cen­tre for con­ser­va­tion of the en­dan­gered corpse flower, which is na­tive to In­done­sia. For this noble cause, he was listed in the In­done­sian Record Mu­seum (MURI), the in­au­gu­ra­tion of which was held in Se­marang in June 2002. Fol­low­ing this, he was listed again two times in MURI for the bird park and also for his ini­tia­tive—through the Hajj Anif Foun­da­tion—to pro­vide mosque-clean­ing ser­vice cars in North Su­ma­tra.

On a daily ba­sis, Hajj keeps him­self busy with char­ity-re­lated works, fo­cus­ing on im­ple­ment­ing the com­pany’s cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grammes. “I run the Haji Anif Foun­da­tion and Anugerah Pen­didikan In­done­sia Foun­da­tion, both of which spe­cialise in pro­vid­ing schol­ar­ships for stu­dents whose par­ents work for the ALAM group. We also give grants to other stu­dents with aca­demic achievements un­til they can com­plete their stud­ies in uni­ver­si­ties.”

A re­spected phi­lan­thropist, Hajj Anif is also a donor who has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety in the form of lec­ture build­ings at Univer­si­tas Su­ma­tra Utara, UNIMED and Univer­si­tas Is­lam Negeri Su­ma­tra Utara. The last one was in­au­gu­rated last year on March 23 on his 78th birth­day. The in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony saw the pres­ence of Min­is­ter of Re­li­gious Af­fairs of In­done­sia Lukman Hakim Sai­fudiin and North Su­ma­tra Deputy Gov­er­nor Nur Az­izah Marpaung.

Turn­ing 79 this year, Hajj Anif still has a dream that has not yet come true. “I want to es­tab­lish a pe­santren, or Is­lamic board­ing school, which fo­cuses on agri­cul­tural and also on re­li­gious stud­ies. Through this in­sti­tu­tion, I hope I can pro­vide an­other con­tri­bu­tion to this coun­try. Young peo­ple will learn how to mas­ter modern agri­cul­ture sys­tem and then trans­fer the knowl­edge to the farm­ers in small vil­lages,” he says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. Be­sides ed­u­ca­tion, re­li­gious char­ity is also at the fore­front of his so­cial work. “I’m a Mus­lim, but I don’t limit my do­na­tion only to help Mus­lims build mosques. I’ve also helped Chris­tians and Bud­dhists con­struct their own places of wor­ship.”

Hajj Anif is very much con­tent with his life. He is not look­ing for a stand­ing ova­tion for his phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties. “My motto is to live a sin­cere life without guile. I am more than happy to help peo­ple, sin­cerely, be­cause God has given me so many bless­ings un­til this very mo­ment. I am His in­stru­ment to help peo­ple who are less for­tu­nate,” Hajj Anif adds.

To keep his life more bal­anced, Hajj Anif loves trav­el­ling with his fam­ily. He would spend four months in Aus­tralia to ex­plore some of the coun­try’s tourist ci­ties, like Sydney and Mel­bourne. “I will do road trip in Aus­tralia, which means driv­ing. And the food there is amaz­ing, and the na­ture al­ways fas­ci­nates me,” he con­cludes

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