Despite the claim in some quarters that Nigeria is not an easy place to start a business, there are still famous entrepreneurs who are doing very well.
These individuals are either the pioneers in what they do or are doing something different from other people in the same industry. Dr. Cletus Ibeto and Ambrose Chukwuemeka Orjiako are good examples of such individuals.
Dr. Cletus Ibeto – Apprentice with Auto Spare Parts Dealer
Cletus Ibeto was born on 6 November 1952 in Umuenem, Obiofia Otolo Nnewi, Anambra State. Growing up, young Cletus wanted to be successful academically, and always dreamt of going to secondary school. After his elementary education, he enrolled at the prestigious Crusader Secondary School, Isingwu Amachala, Umuahia for his secondary education.
On 22 January 1966, the 13-year-old Cletus Ibeto was in a high mood, as he was going to be resuming school with his elder brothers; Cyril Ibeto and Louis Ibeto, who were already in secondary school.
His dreams of going to secondary school were shattered by his father, who believed that a man should not put all his eggs in one basket. Since Cletus’s elder brothers were already in school, his last son should chart a different course—not academics!
This decision really shocked Cletus, who resorted to all the tricks in the world, refusing to eat for days, but his father has made his decision.
Dr. Cletus Ibeto started his business career as an apprentice under the motor parts business. His former boss, John Akamelu was a popular auto spare parts dealer, based in Onitsha. He was with his master until 1967 when the Nigeria civil war started.
After the war ended in 1970, Cletus decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a successful trader. To raise capital for his business, one of his elder brothers, Louis, gave him a leather handbag and a round neck suit, which he sold along with a packet of tablets he picked up at an evacuated hospital. He was able to start his business with the little money realised from the sales of these items and it grew gradually.
Cletus Ibeto’s business career recorded significant growth during the former President Shehu Shagari’s administration, as he profited from a policy change that affected the importation of goods. The then administration banned the importation of goods by individuals without an import licence.
Ibeto on his own side made a sharp movement by securing the ₦3 million import licence at a time a dollar sold for 68 kobo. Subsequently, he was able to import 5 containers of vital motor parts. Before other Nigerian importers could wake up to secure the license, the government had made the steps tighter and almost impossible to get it. Ibeto virtually became a monopolist for motor spare parts and was in fact, selling at almost 500%.
With time, Cletus Ibeto started importing automotive lead-acid batteries and plastic accessories. In 1988, he stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive batteries and plastic motor accessories after completing his Nnewi factory. By 1995, he had already become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfits in Nigeria.
In October 1996, he diversified to other sectors and established the Ibeto Petrochemicals Industries Limited. He has since then started businesses cutting across hospitality, agriculture, cement manufacturing, real estate, among others.
Ambrose Bryant Chukwuemeka Orjiako – A Medical Doctor
Popularly known as ABC, Ambrose Bryant Chukwuemeka Orjiako was born in Calabar, Cross Rivers State, on 2 October 1960 to an Igbo family of late Mr. Daniel Obiesie Orjiako and late Mrs. Rebecca Orjiako from Umuchima, Uli Anambra State. He had his primary education in Uli, and completed his secondary education as a science student in 1978, in the same location — Anambra State, Nigeria.
Dr. ABC Orijako was a brilliant student and led his class in secondary school. He gained admission into the University of Calabar to study Medicine and also graduated in 1985 as one of the best students. As a student, he was the Director of the international federation of medical students, African Region, and also a chairman at the Standing Committee of African Medical students Association.
He was further trained as an orthopedic surgeon; a specialist in trauma management. After years of practice, he was recognised as a fellow of the West African College of Medicine, and Nigerian Postgraduate Medical College.
ABC Orjiako moved out of the medical world to business in 1996 after years of practising as an orthopedist and trauma management specialist. He invested in the oil and gas sector and began to rise steadily due to the strong influence and links made at that time.
With oil and gas paving the way as the primary source of revenues for Nigeria, Dr. ABC Orjiako rose quickly as a multi-millionaire. Later on, he diversified into other sectors like construction, shipping, and the banking and insurance sector.
Dr. ABC Orjiako’s company, called Shebah Exploration and Production Company, co-founded SEPLAT with Platform Petroleum Limited. Since the formation of SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company in 2009, Dr. ABC Orjiako has been the chairman, owing to his excellent leadership and management strategies.
Since then, the company has recorded massive growth in oil and gas production which has earned her global recognition, including the fact that SEPLAT produces over 8,000 barrels of crude oil per day and controls up to 40% of the offshore block.
Under the leadership of Dr. ABC Orjiako, SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company made significant impacts on the global oil industry. In 2014, the company established a listing on the Nigerian and London stock exchanges. The company also won the Best Africa Listing that same year. SEPLAT was also awarded the Mid-Cap Company of the Year in 2014 by the Oil and Gas Council and won the award of the Global Growth Company award by the World Economic Forum.