Innocent Chukwuma: A Trailblazing Auto Manufacturer
He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturing company. He is an illustrous son of Anambra State, born in Nnewi town on October 1, 1960. He is Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, an astute entrepreneur, the Chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, and also the man behind Africa’s first indigenous motor brand, IVM.
Innocent Chukwuma, was born into the family of Chukwuma Mojekwu, the youngest child in a family of six. He has a lot of houses as a wealthy and prosperous businessmen . Currently, he lives in Enugu. Since he makes them, he also owns a fleet of luxury cars, .
Specifically, this business magnet was born into the family of Chukwuma from Uru-Umdim, Nnewi in Anambra State. His father, whose name was Chukwuma Mojekwu, worked as a civil servant, while his doting mother, Martina Chukwuma, was a full housewife.
As the last of the six children, he has five siblings: three other boys, and two girls. It was at his home town of Nnewi that he had his primary and secondary school education. In 1978, after he graduated from secondary school, Innocent had high hopes of being an engineer. Working in line with this vision and in pursuit of his evergreen ambition, he applied at the university to study engineering. But unfortunately, he could not get in due to his inability to meet the cut-off mark.
Before then, he was assisting his elder brother in his medicine store, while he awaited the admission result. It was during this process, Innocent discovered that he has a natural talent and exceptional flair for trading. After he was not selected for admission, Innocent Chukwuma just moved on with life, by continuing his trading business. His elder brother, Gabriel, then took him to Chief Romanus Eze Onwuka nicknamed Rojenny, to be apprenticed for one year.
His new boss, Chief Onwuka was then trading in motorcycle spare parts, and was the biggest and most successful motorcycle parts seller at that time in Nnewi. He also constructed the first private-owned stadium located in Oba, around Onitsha.
After a year of apprenticeship under Onwuka, Innocent return to Gabriel, his elder brother. And Gabriel, who had by this time registered a spare parts business called Gabros international, gave Innocent ₦3,000 to begin a shop, which was registered under Gabros International.
Happy at being semi-independent, the young man bought his first set of goods, and also rented a shop. He began trading in spare parts, especially Honda motorcycle spare parts, under the name Innoson Nigeria Limited.
And barely a year after, the medicine store, as well as the motorcycle spare parts business, had their respective inventory taken. Fortunately, it was discovered then that the motorcycle spare parts business, Gabros International, was making one thousand percent more than the medicine store in revenue. This, indeed, encouraged the young Innocent and convinced him that he was on the right track.
Innocent separated from his brother completely and began to trade in Honda motorcycle parts, in 1981. After making good use of his savings, and cash which his brother gave him, he launched his business, branding it Innoson Nigeria Limited. Gradually, he then began to import motorcycles.
Soon later, he thought of what to do to cut down the cost of these new imported motorcycles, so that ordinary Nigerians could afford them. The method he adopted was importing the motorcycles disassembled, so that more could fit in the containers and then assemble the bikes on arrival in the country.
Using this method, 200 units of motorcycles could be fitted into the 40 ft. container, and he was able to sell them very cheaper than others at the rate of ₦60,000 – ₦80,000 as compared to others who sold theirs for ₦150,000. Indeed, Innocent Chukwuma happened to be the first to introduce the Jingcheng brand of motorcycle in Nigeria.
Since then, this acclaimed Nigerian entrepreneur has been assembling motorcycles, already branded like Boulos and Leventis companies. He further set up a plastic factory. This was just to produce plastic components needed when he noticed a particular motorcycle had a lot of plastic on it.
Struck by the prevalent custom of Nigerians to buy and drive foreign used cars, due to the high cost of brand new vehicles, Innocent Chukwuma, had a vision of making cheaper local cars that would be affordable. This lucid and articulate vision led gradually to the present Innoson group of companies, a local entity with vast interests in vehicle, motorcycle, and tricycle assembly and manufacture, tire manufacture, plastics, and agriculture.
After it was incorporated in 2007, Innoson motors’ factory was commissioned in 2010 by Goodluck Jonathan. As I write this, Innoson Motors has since become a household name in Nigeria, and indeed in West Africa.
The Federal Government, under the watch of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent President Muhammad Buhari, has given Innoson Motors enormous patronage and support. But that is not all. Various military formations, as well as states such as Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Ekiti, Anambra, Kogi, Bauchi, and Gombe, all buy Innoson Motors for use.
If adequately supported, Innocent Chukwuma said his company can transform Nigeria into a big manufacturing hub for vehicles within a short time. Empirical research has it that some West African countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali and even some other Nigerians living abroad, currently use Innoson Motors.
According to Chukwuma, his factory can manufacture different brands of vehicles, hence he hopes to expand it further soon. To empower and liberate Nigerian youths from the clutches of unemployment, he has employed about 7,300 – 7,500 of them as workers, in his company, for better productivity. IVM Limited manufactures trucks, tricycles, buses, sedans, and SUVs. For now, this company remains the first-ever indigenously owned car plant in Nigeria. Again, IVM is one major importer, assembler and supplier of motorcycles, as well as their parts in West Africa, and Nigeria, today. Needless to mention, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma’s plastic factory is one of the largest crash helmets manufacturers in West Africa and also the largest plastic manufacturer in Nigeria.
Innoson Group of Companies
Innoson Nigeria Limited 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 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) 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 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.
Chief Innocent Chukwuma was honoured and also awarded an honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by the Enugu State University of Science and Technology. The Anambra State-born business magnate is a member of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), even as he has also been named entrepreneur of the year, several times by reputable organisations and corporate bodies.
He is also the Honorary Life Vice President of Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA). Also, he was one named as the ‘Most Outstanding Indigenous Entrepreneur’ in the Manufacturing Sector by the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA). In 2013, he was appointed the Deputy Chairman, Board of Trustees National Coalition for Jonathan/Sambo presidency. The group was set up to promote the election bid of erstwhile president, Goodluck Jonathan.
Chukwuma is a grand fellow of Nigerian Institute of Strategic Management (NISM), and also serves as a Chancellor at Imo State University, Owerri. Among other awards and honours bestowed on the Innoson motors Founder include: 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; and Best Customer by Bank of Industry, 2011.
Others are Business Person of the Year by the Sun Publishing Limited 2011; and 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; and the Professor Barth Nnaji Prize for Technology at Igbo Awards 2017.
The Innoson motors owner is happily married to Ebele Chukwuma, and blessed with lovely children. They live a low keyed life in their Enugu residence.