Hello Nigerians, we are excited to know that you are there! Welcome to this week’s edition of the Rebrand Nigeria Champions Series!
Our searchlight this week is on Innocent Chukwuma, who was born on 1st October, 1961 into a humble family in Uru-Umdim, Nnewi, Anambra State.
He had his primary and secondary education in his hometown, Uru-Umudim in Nnewi. After Innocent completed his secondary education in 1978, he applied to study Engineering at the university.
While awaiting his admission result, he was assisting his elder brother in his medicine store. It was during this time that Innocent discovered that he has a natural talent for trading.
When he didn’t meet the admission cut-off mark, he decided to explore his flare for trade. His brother, Gabriel took him to Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka, popularly known as Rojenny, a motorcycle spare parts dealer and also the founder of the first private stadium in Nigeria, Rojenny Stadium in Oba near Onitsha where he served as an apprentice for a year. Within a year of his apprenticeship, he mastered the act of buying and selling of motorcycle parts, and later returned to his brother, Gabriel.
On his return, his brother registered Gabros International to trade in motorcycle parts and gave Innocent the sum of N3,000 to start the business. With this start up seed grant, Innocent rented a shop and bought the first goods.
A year later, innocent and his brother took stock of both the medicine store and motorcycle parts business. They found out that Gabros International was generating 10 times more income than the medicine store. His brother then decided to close the medicine store and paid full attention to the auto spare-part business.
In 1981, Innocent Chukwuma cordially parted with his brother and started trading in Honda motorcycle parts. Armed with his savings and the cash his brother gave him, he began trading under the name Innoson Nigeria Limited and in no distant time, he started importing motorcycles.
However, he identified that He realised that people preferred buying second hand motorcycles to the new ones which were rather expensive since They new motorcycles were imported as already assembled and a 40ft container could only take 40 assembled motorcycles.
To solve this problem, Innocent found ways to import the disassembled motorcycles and later assemble them in Nigeria. this way, more motorcycles were able to fit into the 40 feet container. With this new idea, he was able to import 200 units of motorcycle in the same 40ft container and reassembled them upon their arrival in Nigeria. This gave him the edge to sell cheaper than his counterparts.
This was how Innocent Chukwuma’s company started assembling branded motorcycle just like the Leventis and Boulos Enterprises. Today, the company is one of the major importers, suppliers and assemblers of motorcycles and motorcycle parts in Nigeria and West Africa at large. He was the first to introduce Jingcheng brand of motorcycle into Nigeria.
An entrepreneur is always innovative looking for new markets and new ways to sell to his customers.
In his words, “…I looked at a motorcycle and realized that there is a lot of plastic on the body. So I set up a plastic factory. I decided to produce all the plastic components in my factories so that more units of the spare parts can go into a container.”
Today, his plastic factory is one of the largest manufacturer of crash helmets in West Africa and also the largest manufacturer of plastic products in Nigeria.
The great entrepreneur was not done with his innovative creations yet. In 2007, He went further to add a feather to his cap by establishing an automobile manufacturing company in Nigeria. He established the first indigenous vehicle manufacturing company in Nigeria as 70% of the car parts are produced locally, while the rest is sourced from Japan, China, and Germany.
Innoson Group of Companies include the following subsidiaries:
Innoson Nigeria Limited
The company was incorporated in July, 1987 and entered into a joint venture of assembling motorcycle in Nigeria with Chinese Motorcycle Manufacturer in 1994. They specialise in the manufacturing of motorcycles, tricycles, spare parts and accessories. It is located in Nnewi, Anambra State.
Innoson Technical & Industrial Co. Ltd
The company commenced operations in October, 2002 with its head office/factory at Plot W/L Industrial Layout, Emene, Enugu State. They produce high quality household and industrial plastics, health and safety accessories, storage container, fixture & fittings, electrical components and accessories.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM)
The company was incorporated in 2007 and commissioned on the 15th of October, 2010 by President Goodluck Ebele Johnathan at Nnewi. It’s product line includes high capacity city bus, safe and cost effective mini & midi buses, pick-up trucks and garbage collecting vehicles. The company also provides good services for repairs and parts supply.
Innoson General Tyres and Tubes Co. Ltd
The company produces motorcycles tyres and tubes. They produce about 8,000 pieces of motorcycle tyres and 13,000 tubes daily. The company’s plant is located in Enugu State, South-East region of Nigeria.
There are speculations about Innoson’s net worth. While the figured cannot be authoritatively confirmed, he is said to be worth about $1.5 billion dollars, equivalent to around 542 billion naira.
Recognition and Awards;
Innocent Chukwuma Ifediaso is recognized for his contributions to not just the Nigerian automotive industry but to the society at large.
Justice of Peace by Enugu State Government 2006
Industrialist of the Year by Nigerian Union of Journalist, Enugu State 2006
Meritorious Awards by Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) 2008
Award of Excellence, Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) 2008
Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) 2008
Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by Enugu State University of Science and Technology 2011
Officer of the Federal Republic 2011
Best Customer by Bank of Industry, 2011
Business Person of the Year by the Sun Publishing Limited 2011
Entrepreneur of the Year by Wesley University of Science and Technology, Akure 2012
Auto Personality of the Year by Guild Motoring Correspondence 2013
Most Innovative Entrepreneur by Vanguard Newspaper 2013
Honorary Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by University of Nigeria 2014
Entrepreneurial Ambassador by Nigeria Arise 2014
Accomplished Contemporary Entrepreneurs’ Award by Federal Government 2014
Professor Barth Nnaji Prize for Technology at Igbo Awards 2017
Many thanks for staying with us this week. To keep a date with us on this weekly segment, remember to use these hashtags: #RebrandNigeriaChampions, #RebrandNigeriaCampaign, #GiantOfAfrica, #NigeriaMustBeGreat
The Rebrand Nigeria Campaign is powered by the Ugwumba Center for Leadership Development in Africa. For more information, please, visit www.rebrandnigeria.org
God bless Nigeria!