Fortune favoring the brave is not just a saying but a reality exemplified by Cosmos Maduka ; a colossus in the Nigerian auto market.
Cosmos was born in the eastern part of Nigeria and had a firsthand experience of difficulties including the civil war which started when he was just six years old. “We lived each day not knowing how to survive”, he recalled in his Forbes interview. His mother sent him to his grandmother from where he embarked on a journey that will take him through the difficulties of life but make him one of the respected business men in African auto market. This and more makes him credit his success to his mother. “My mother is the lady who inspired me to greatness. She will always look at me then and tell me how successful I will become. She always told me that people will always like me and will struggle to say no to me”, he says.
Cosmos Maduka is the founder of Conscharis Group which holds over eight automobile franchises and one of the largest distributors of spare parts in Nigeria. The company also plays in the real estate, banking, medicine, technology, petroleum and agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy.
To think that this company which sells more than 400 luxury cars like jaguar, Rolls Royce, BMW, Range Rover and Ford cars according to Forbes; started with #200 (currently less than $1) beats the imagination of onlookers.
The medical arm of the company represents pharmaceutical companies like GE health, Philips, etc. Conscharis technologies holds sway with brands like Microsoft, Lenovo, Hp and others.
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What seems like a resounding success didn’t start so. Apart from growing in excruciating poverty and civil war, Maduka lost his father when he was a toddler. He was waking up with his elder brother by 5am to hawk bean cake as a means of helping support their family. But the young man landed family sales award as he constantly out sold his elder brother.
At the age of six; due to financial problems, the mother brought him out of school and sent him to his uncle as a spare parts apprentice in Nnewi.
He traded for his uncle for seven years showering in the streets and sleeping on the floor of the shop all these years as there was no bed space for him in his uncle’s house. According to him” this experience was the best university any young man can go to because it was a system that had no contractual agreement for success”, as he pointed out in his Forbes interview.
At 13, Maduka had already proven himself with his master as he was virtually in charge of his uncles business. Within this period, he learnt everything he could from the business and built a strong reputation among his customers.
However, his strong Christian faith which he demonstrated by closing his uncles shop for three days to attend a church fasting and prayer ended his business relationship with the uncle as he was immediately fired without any compensation for his seven years of service. He swallowed this disappointment and moved on with nothing but his faith and determination for excellence.
Having lost his place but not his experience, Cosmas went to form Maduka brothers with his brothers. But, this venture didn’t last for more than a year. He proceeded on his own using the good will he has built over the years to set himself on the part of success.
At the age of 17, Maduka was fighting to get married to charity to the extent that he was short at by charity’s uncle but luckily he missed him. His stubbornness with success and ability to dare landed him charity as a wife and at 24, he became a millionaire and Conscharis (which is a combination of Cosmos and Charity) group was born.
Today, Conscharis group has more than 26 branches in Nigeria and is ably represented in some African countries like Ghana, Gabon, Cote d’ voire.
The company was set on the path of fortune when the federal government of Nigeria gave out import licenses to incorporated companies in the early 80s. This gave the company the opportunity to secure import license and compete with global brands like of Leventis motors, Mandelas and profit from the external exposure of the Nigerian economy.
As the economy was experiencing a shakeup in the middle eighties, many automobile companies folded up. But cosmos stood still and strong in the midst of the turmoil to revolutionaries the automobile industry in Nigeria by establishing service-center equipped show rooms in the country.
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According to Forbes, the company is worth more than $300 million in shareholders’ equity.
Maduka almost raked his empire when he secured a ‘loan-went-bad’ for a business associate using his good will and stake in Access bank Nigeria plc. This he considers one of his worst business decisions. However, he pulled through the difficulty just like he has always done in the past though it cost him over $278 million.
The Conscharis group has a target of scaling to a billion dollar company with major focus in the agricultural sector. He is a firm and passionate believed in the Nigerian project. ‘If we unleash the capacity of this country and the government handles corruption, the true potentials of this market will be unmatched anywhere in the world” he said.
The prosperity of Nigeria and indeed Africa is dependent on entrepreneurs like Cosmos Maduka who will be ready to face challenges and conquer them.