From an ordinary apprentice in a motor spare parts shop, Cletus Ibeto (chairman, Ibeto Group) rose to become one of the richest billionaires in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Estimated to be worth a total of about $3.7 billion dollars at 2013 by Ventures Africa, Cletus Ibeto’s success story is truly that of grass to grace.
How did he become so stinkingly rich? Read on to find out.
The Childhood Years Of Cletus Ibeto
Cletus Ibeto fully named Cletus Mmadubugwu Ibeto, was born in the great city of Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria on the 6th of November, 1952.
Like every other child whose parents knew the value of education, Cletus Ibeto was enrolled in a school just like his like two elder brothers Cyril and Louis Ibeto.
Young Cletus Ibeto loved being educated and had dreams of finishing his education at the university level. Unknowingly to him, life was about to cut this dream short.
At the age of 13, on January 22, 1966, the young Ibeto now in secondary school prepared himself for school as usual. He took his school box and already packed provisions, and was set to leave for school when he was informed of a change of plans.
His father has decided to send him to one John Akamelu, a trader in Onitsha. He was to learn trade from him while his two brothers, Cyril and Louis continued their education.
After his begging and pleadings to be allowed to continue his education proved futile, Cletus Ibeto obeyed his father and left to Onitsha in his school uniform.
As at this time in Nigeria, formal education was still considered “a thing for the weaklings” among illiterates and a thing for only “male” members of the family among those who welcome it. Only few parents allowed their female children to be educated.
This his arrival in his school uniform made people who saw him arrive in his uniform cajole and call him names. Such as “schoolboy” and others.
His master too hated his love for school so much and didn’t fail to use the whip on Ibeto whenever he sees it necessary. On one of Ibeto’s arm today, the mark of his master’s whip is still clearly visible. A mark Ibeto carries with pride like a trophy.
Cletus Ibeto stayed and learnt from his master everything he could about trade until the age of 17 when the civil war broke out. The war shortened his apprenticeship as he was forced to join the war.
After the war which almost saw Ibeto killed, he set out to once more become a trader. To help raise capital for Ibeto to start his business, one of his elder brother Louis handed him a round neck suit and a leather bag.
Adding these two items to a packet of APC Tablets which he had earlier picked at an evacuated hospital. Ibeto sold them and was able to use the proceeds from the sale to begin his business.
The Rise Of Cletus Ibeto And The Ibeto Group
As at this time, the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari being the government in power then, made a policy. This policy allowed the importation of goods into the country without an import licence.
Cletus Ibeto seized this opportunity to start importing goods into the country. By the time the import licence was reintroduced, he had already saved up to 3 million naira which he used to obtain an import licence.
This import licence enabled him to import 65 containers of motor spare parts. Shortly after this importation, a new government came into power that closed the borders temporarily and made it almost impossible for new import licences to be obtained.
This unexpected situation turned out to be all that Ibeto needed to explode in his business. With his containers of spare parts already available in the market before the temporal shut down of borders, Ibeto became the only one who had enough goods at that time to sell.
He had customers from all over the country lining up to buy from him not minding the higher price at which he was selling. In his interview with the SUN NEWSPAPER, Cletus Ibeto said in two days of the arrival of those containers, he made about four million pounds.
His business continued to thrive from that point that in the year 1995, Ibeto Group (his business name) built a spare parts manufacturing company and became the largest indigenous manufacturers of the same in Nigeria.
The next year 1996, October 2nd Ibeto set up another manufacturing company at Apapa Wharf and the Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos Nigeria. This company was named Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Limited and manufactures petroleum products for sale both within and outside Nigerian markets.
Today, Cletus Ibeto is valued at over $3 billion dollars according to Ventures Africa (2013). He continues to invest in automotive parts, cement, hospitality, petrochemicals, banking and finance, real estate, and oil and gas.
Cletus Ibeto’s grass to grace story is a true proof that anyone who sets himself on the path of greatness can achieve it.
It doesn’t matter the opportunities you may have missed in the past as a result of life’s challenges. Focus on the ones ahead and prepare for it. Be committed to what you do and take note of government policies that can help you improve your business.
Invest your money wisely and in due time your efforts will pay off.
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