BACKGROUND NOT AN EXCUSE, the story behind the Innoson Group
Business environment in Africa is not a very friendly one. Resilience, dedication and risk-taking are characteristics required to survive in the harsh, unsympathetic business world. In Africa, it is not the fittest who survive, it is the most adaptable. One man who survived the harsh African business climate world and charted a new course for himself is Chief (Dr) Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman Innoson Group.
Dr Innocent’s journey into success was not an easy one and could be likened to one of the numerous stories of grass to grace. Dr Innocent chukwuma was the last of six children born into the family of Chukwuma mojekwu of Uru – Umudim, Nnewi in Anambra state, southeastern Nigeria.
The spoon with which innoson was fed was a wooden one – a very wretched one. His humble family background made him discontinue his education after his primary school to join his elder brother to learn trade at his patent medicine store, popularly known as ‘chemist’ in Nigeria.
Chief Chukwuma’s elder brother wanted him to learn how to trade on motorcycle parts and thus he was sent on apprenticeship to Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka popularly known as Rojenny.
What Innocent Chukwuma lacked in parental background and comfort, he made up in intelligence, hard work, discipline and a high business insight. These qualities saw him through his apprenticeship period and thereafter he established his motorcycle parts trade.
Chief Innocent was instrumental to the drastic reduction of price of branded new motorcycles in Nigeria. The prices of motorcycles were expensive then because producers of motorcycle exported them to Nigeria in whole and as such only 40 units could fit into a 40 ft container.
Innocent’s vision, critical thinking and problem solving ability tasked him into finding a way to reduce the price of motorcycles. He went to the producers and asked them to strip the motorcycle into smaller parts so that they are coupled in Nigeria. That way the same 40 ft container was able to contain 200 units and this reduced the price of motorcycles from N150, 000 to N 70, 000.
This business man after dealing in motorcycle parts for a while noticed that motorcycles had lots of plastic components in it. This got him thinking, ‘if those plastic components were produced locally, it would further reduce the cost of motorcycles.’ In 2002, he set up a plastic plant to produce plastic parts of motorcycles in Enugu state, southeast Nigeria which further helped slash the price to N60, 000 sixty thousand. The plastic plant currently produces about 8000 pieces of motorcycle tires and 13, 000 tyre tubes daily with plans for expansion.
Innocent foresights led him into the automobile industry. His idea was that if Nigerians would be patriotic enough to patronize made in Nigeria vehicles, all the money being wasted on importation of vehicles would remain in the country and Nigerians will have more money to develop the country. How patriotic!
And so, in 2004, the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing co. ltd was established at Nnewi town, Anambra state. The plant produces different types of Nigerian made vehicles. The Nnewi plant builds cars from scratch to finish with locally sourced raw materials.
As a result of his patriotism and efforts to bring growth and development to the people, the late, Nigerian president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua honored innocent with the award of the order of the Niger, OON. Subsequently, he was conferred with the title of member of the federal republic, MFR by the former President Jonathan.
In the international scene, Dr innocent was bestowed with the commonwealth business council award in London and also the institute of directors award. In 2012, Innoson Group was given recognition at the 2012 African business award in London for its success in Nigeria and Africa.
So do you think that your family background or educational limitation is the reason for your failure? Think again.
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