This Chinese Entrepreneur from Semarang Becomes a World Billionaire

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – About 100 years ago, there was a Chinese businessman from Semarang who became a world billionaire thanks to selling sugar. The entrepreneur is Oei Tiong Ham whose name is legendary in Indonesian economic history.

Oei Tiong Ham started a business at the age of 19 or in 1885. He was entrusted by his father to manage the family business, Kian Gwan. Initially, he was in the property business. However, it slowly turned into an exporter of sugar which became an important export commodity from the Dutch East Indies.

This change in business line is a blessing in itself for Oei Tiong Ham. SSince the late 1880s, with capital from loans, Oei Tiong Ham made large profits by opening new sugar cane plantations and establishing a sugar factory. This method succeeded in making Oei monopolize the sugar market in Java.

This success led Oei Tiong Ham to establish his own conglomerate called Oei Tiong Ham Concern (OTHC) in 1893. The main focus was of course the sugar business. About this Oei Tiong Ham has a simple way to make his sugar business become 'king', namely modernization, both in management structure and operations.

According to Yoshihara Kunio in Oei Tiong Ham Conglomerate (1992), he rejects family business governance. So, he wants the company to be managed as well as possible by experts. As a result, many OTHC employees were European or Dutch.

Apart from that, Oei is also carrying out operational rejuvenation. All OTHC sugar factories were the first to implement electrification in the Dutch East Indies.

Apart from that, he is also open to collaborating with other companies to develop his business octopus. One of them is a sugar cane entrepreneur in Malang, Tio Tjin Tiong, and a Singapore conglomerate, Tjong A Fien and Tjong Yong Hian.

In the end, uThis swamp proved successful. In the period 1910-1912, OTHC succeeded in exporting 200 thousand tons of sugar, beating Western companies. In fact, at the same time, OTHC succeeded in controlling 60% of the sugar market in the Dutch East Indies. Its branch offices are spread throughout the world, from India, Singapore to London. Not surprisingly, many call him the 'king' of world sugar.

Thanks to the size of this business, it is not surprising that Oei Tiong Ham had a wealth of 200 million guilders at that time. For the record, 1 guilder in 1925 could buy 20 kg of rice. If the price of rice is IDR 10,850/kg, it is estimated that his assets are worth IDR 43.4 trillion. On this basis, he was named one of the billionaires in the world and the Dutch East Indies.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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