No well informed citizen of Nigeria could be ignorant of the existence of Innoson Vehicles. Innoson motors has already become a household name in Nigeria as far as the automobile industry is concerned. Indeed the saying “never despise your little beginning” befits the man we discuss today.
THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Many are familiar with the Innoson company. However, very few know the real name of the man behind the company. Let me introduce you to Nigeria’s most daring and innovative entrepreneur: Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma (OFR). The Chairman of IVM Innoson Group of Companies Limited.
Chief, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma was born in 1961 at Umudim in Nnewi, Anambra State. He is the last of six children. Among them, Four Males, Two Females born to Mr and Mrs Chukwuma Mojekwu of Uru-Umudim Nnewi, Anambra State. His father, Mr Godwin Chukwuma, was a junior civil servant, while his mother, Mrs Martina Chukwuma, was a housewife.
In 1981, after his education, Innocent began trading in spare parts. It has proven to be a very lucrative business in South East Nigeria. He then founded the company Innoson Group, with Innoson Manufacturing, Innoson Tech. & Industries Co. Ltd as its subsidiaries.
His business has metamorphosed into four manufacturing companies:
First, is the Innoson Nigeria Limited in Nnewi, manufacturers of motorcycles, tri-cycles, spare parts and accessories.
Second, Innoson Tech. & Industries Co. Ltd Enugu. They manufacture Household and Industrial Plastics, Health & Safety accessories. Also, Storage containers, Fixtures & Fittings, Electrical components & accessories are also manufactured here.
Third; Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Nnewi, manufacturers of Capacity City bus, Mini & Midi buses, Pick-Up trucks and Garbage Collecting vehicles. The vehicles in IVM fleet range from cars, trucks, SUVs, compactors, and so on. Presently, the company has a presence in some African countries such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger, Togo.
Finally, General Tyres & Tubes Co. Ltd Enugu; manufacturers of Tyres and Tubes.
In an interview with the Vanguard Newspaper, the business mogul stated that as the first indigenous motor manufacturing company in Nigeria, he wanted to prove that Nigerians can do it. This he says has been proved. According to him, the inspiration to go into vehicle manufacturing was drawn from a desire to see Nigerians drive new cars. “Nigeria has become a dumping ground for second hand cars. I know it was the high price of new vehicles that made Nigerians resort to patronising old vehicles. But since we decided to manufacture the vehicles here, the price is affordable, and our people can drive new vehicles again”.
He added, “when the company began, no one gave him a chance. He also recalled that not so many believe it will work. But today, they can attest to the fact that it is working. People from other countries are coming to copy what I did to replicate it in their own country”. This success story has ensured employment for about 7,400 Nigerians who work in the company’s factory.
Hardwork has its rewards and Innocent Chukwuma is not exempted. As a result, his prestigious awards include but not limited to the following;
- Appointment as the Deputy Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Coalition for Jonathan/Sambo Presidency, November 2013
- The honorary Life Vice President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA) on November 23, 2013
- Ambassador for Peace by St. Andrews Anglican Church, Trans Ekulu, Enugu, April, 2012
- Entrepreneur of the Year by Wesley University of Science and Technology, Akure, Ondo State, March 2012.
- Most Outstanding Indigenous Entrepreneur in the Manufacturing Sector by Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) in January 2012
- National Council Member, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria
- Conferred the National Honour of the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) on November 2011 by His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan
- Awarded Doctorate Degree in Business Administration (DBA) by Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu.
Dr. Innocent is a source of motivation to many Nigerian youths today, and in fact, a symbol of rising from a nobody to somebody. Indeed, it suffices to say, he is the Nigerian version of Bill Gates.