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The Founder’s First Stall

This bamboo stall is a replica of the one once used
by Sampoerna’s founder Liem Seeng Tee and his
wife Siem Tjiang Nio.

Not long after their marriage in 1912, Sampoerna’s founder Liem Seeng Tee
and his wife Siem Tjiang Nio had had enough savings to rent a small stall at
Tjantian Road in the old city of Surabaya. The couple sold basic food stuffs
and tobacco products to make their living. In addition to the shop sales, Seeng
Tee peddled tobacco products from the back of his bicycle through the streets
of Surabaya. From this humble beginning, the history of the Sampoerna Group
of Companies is to be written.

Founder Liem Seeng Tee was a young boy of only five when his father brought
him and his elder sister onboard a cargo ship bound for Southeast Asia. The
three left their village, Anxi, in Fujian Province, China, to seek a milder climate,
a more promising working conditions and a new life, after the previous harsh winter
witnessed the death of the mother. After weeks of tiring trip, only Seeng Tee and
his father arrived in Surabaya. On their voyage south, the family stopped briefly
at the British colony of Malaya where the father, probably for economic reasons,
allowed his daughter to be adopted informally by a Chinese family in Singapore.

Life had not become easier for Seeng Tee in Indonesia. Within six months after
arriving in Surabaya, his father became very ill. Before the father passed away,
he managed to leave young Seeng Tee at the hand of a family in Bojonegoro, a
small city near Surabaya. This modest family raised the young boy as best they
could despite the harsh colonial conditions of the time. Although no formal schooling
was available, Seeng Tee’s adoptive father was able to provide him with his first
formative exposure to Chinese mercantile system, an introduction that would serve
him well in the future. The young boy lived with this family until he was 11 years old,
when he was ready to begin working.

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