The greatness of a man has been described as what is not in his wealth but in the story that produces the wealth, the life and time of Cosmas Maduka, the Executive Director of Coscharis Group, a company that started from a very small scale and grown into an indigenous conglomerate with diverse interest in manufacturing, ICT, petrochemical, auto care, automobile sales and services, agriculture and agro allied business is no more a local empire but an international conglomerate that is employing thousands of Nigerians into his work force.
Through the visionary capacity of Maduka, he secured sole franchise of BMW, Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover premium brands and Abro USA Auto care and consumer products
Maduka who was a guest speaker at the annual Small and Medium Enterprise conference organized by Enterprise Development Centre of Pan Atlantic University, Lagos said to participants at the program that Coscharis Group as an organisation also has a strong partner for distribution of Ford Brand of automobiles in Nigeria.
When he was asked if he ever envisage of going far to build such conglomerate, Maduka said that success in life is like a wild fire, once it is ignited, it is hard to quench it, and it keeps on moving on from one thing to the other.
According to him, “I started as a young man, I lost my father when I was age 4, I could not go beyond elementary three, forget all about these mind boggling profile they are telling you, I did not go beyond elementary 3 but I have a godly mother who was dedicated and committed, she inspired me and told me to believe in myself as I believe in God”.
He said that his mother discovered his entrepreneurial capability out of hard work and perseverance asking to him to sell akara (bean cake) on the streets.
As a seven years old boy, Maduka came to Lagos to learn how to sell motor cycle parts in Ebute Meta where he was sleeping in a shop at 88 Brickfield street, Ebute Meta.
“I still recall at the age of eight going to join night bus to Nwewi, I passed A.G Leventis building, I pointed at the building that one day I will own a building like this, an elderly man that was with me heard me and knocked my head that what is wrong with this young boy but that shows you the power of vision”
“You must believe it that it is a true vision, you have to work to get it happen, it does not happen overnight. To that fact, the first building I ever made was at Adeola Odeku, if you look at it, it will confirm to you that it is a true vision. I have property in different places, I never truly expected where we are today, the truth is that when you get it right from the beginning and the foundation, it means that you can build on top of it”, he said.
He urged people that they must have clear vision of where they want to go. “It is only when you are clear of where you want to go, that is when you can choose your road. What I wanted to do from day one was to build an institution that will be timeless in its relevancy and value. I have an idea of what the destination will be but the road started as a course of a voyage.
Maduka said that the solid foundation that he has in his apprenticeship years is the best university he has ever gone to. Most people don’t play value on mentorship and understanding vision.
“While I was working with my uncle, a lot of questions came to my mind and I started questioning the norms that can’t things be done in better way and I was taking note of what I’m going to do in the future”
“After I served my uncle in 1976, he counted two hundred naira and gave me when I went to meet him with one of my elder brothers; it was as if the world was coming to an end, my brother said I should leave the money and let us go home, I asked him if he has any other thing to give me when we get home, he said no and I said to him that I better take this one first and that is part of what I want to tell people in business because you don’t get what you deserve in life you deserve what is you negotiated for”, he urged.
The Coscharis CEO said he went back to buying and selling of motorcycle spare parts, “I will joined night bus, came to Lagos buy parts at A.J Leventis and ran back to Nnewi but the simple thing that I did was that I have what I called expenses books, sales book, profit book, purchase book, I don’t have money to employ any accountant or set a structure office in a big form but I need to keep ego eye on my capital because if I don’t know how much I’m earning, I won’t know how to spend money and one thing at the back of my mind is that any money I do not earn I won’t spend it, because I started with very little capital so If drink a soft drink, I will record it, I never spend any money without recording it, that is the first step in accountability, you make yourself accountable”
“With this basic things I did, I know what to buy with what I have, how much to budget for transport and all sorts because most people are just being happy because they are selling but not taking inventory of what they are selling. They were only concern about turn over and turn over until they discovered that business has turned to something else.
Maduka who never see borrowing capital from bank as a good idea said that the first capital he borrowed from bank was one hundred naira from African Continental Bank.
“The manager at that time, Mr. Duru said to me that if I turn over, they will give me more money so I collected the money went back to my store, I went back to pay 250 Naira on that same day, I paid 150 Naira the next day, 350 Naira on the third day. I did not do anything with the 1000 Naira because I wanted to turn over, before I knew what was happening the total amount remain was 750 Naira. I went and returned the 1000 to ACB and said to myself that I won’t borrowed from the bank again but to trade with my capital”
Maduka urged small business owners that not to borrow capital until when the business is well structured, see the way the business is running because the best way to commit suicide and lose capital that you have is to go and borrow money from bank when you are still structuring your business.
“I never borrow money again from bank until I built that Coscharis Plaza in Victoria Island, GTBank put down two hundred million Naira in place for me, I never draw from it until I finished the building. My determination was that I need to build capital first, because as a business man, I knew that capital is the engine of business, it is like mechanics and dynamics, the knowledge you have is the mechanics of your business but the dynamics is the capital, a car that does not have engine can never go anywhere”
He described himself as a workaholic that have a lot of assignments on his table and meetings to attend, “there are times that I don’t leave my office until 1 to 2am, I don’t have time of my own which make it difficult for me to go for holiday sometimes but what I have been able to do is that I have time to relax, dine and discuss with my wife. I still don’t have television in our house for anything not to disrupt our time”, he revealed.