When it comes to entrepreneurship, Chief Dr. Chidi Anyaegbu, CEO Chisco group has not only proved himself but has blazed a trail that others can follow.
Like most entrepreneurs from the East, he started out selling Spare parts. But with a seed fund of just NGN120, goodwill, a detailed plan and a passion for excellence, Chief Anyaegbu has grown his transport business into the conglomerate, Chisco group having arms in Oil and gas, finance, hospitality, real estate, education, import and export.
In the course of his business, he also attended several short Management and Entrepreneurial courses in France, USA, Brazil, Germany, and United Kingdom. He was conferred with a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration (Honoris Causa) by Penn State University, USA in 1996. He is a Fellow, Chattered Institute of Logistics and Transport (International) London and possesses the Business Certificate Award by University of Houston USA.
In this interview with Tobi Solarin from Vanguard Spark, during which he pledged to give N200, 000 to the SPARK Rookie of the Month for November, this passion-driven entrepreneur shares his perspective on success, business and service to God and humanity.
Below are some excerpts from the interview:
TS: You started your business with NGN120, courtesy of your Uncle. Would you say this funding contributed immensely to your success?
Chief Anyaegbu: The NGN120 you mentioned was sourced from the NGN150 my master Mr Daniel Ofodum gave to me as settlement after completing the apprenticeship training with him. I used this money to rent my first shop from my landlady Mama Fasholati at Oyingbo. I served my master honestly and wholeheartedly and that was one of the reasons the money went far for me as I think it was blessed by God. However, I always advise anyone that it is not really about your capital that determines success because many people have received far more money than what I got but it could not amount to much for them. Astute business Planning and rugged determination can attract capital and that is why I wrote a book called “YOU TOO CAN DO IT” to encourage the youth not to give up and to keep striving for success without engaging in vices but in products or services that can benefit humanity.
TS: You were in the spare parts business before you started your transport company – Chisco Transport. What inspired the change?
Chief Anyaegbu: Yes, we started with spare parts business in 1978 and was very successful but the demand for transport and logistics services was overwhelming and was even affecting our business as people and cargo would always be stuck for days with no vehicle. Chisco Transport began its pioneer route with Lagos to Onitsha with a fairly used bus but with hard work and a keen eye on customer satisfaction we continued to grow from strength to strength And today our group have not stopped aspiring to meeting the needs of yearning populace demanding for hospitality service, energy, haulage, courier and even spare parts, tyres etc. We strive to live to the expectation of our loyal customers by being consistent in delivering quality service. Integrity and honesty are part of the core values of our brand and that is why all our stakeholders including our bankers, customers and the government have recognized us as valuable partners over these decades of active service.
TS: If you could come back into the world again, would you still go into the transport business? And why?
Chief Anyaegbu: I pride myself as a technical person and that is why I could excel in the trading of Spare parts and ultimately diversified into transport. I can name every key component in a vehicle and go on to tell you how many km’s is expected. Serving the masses through my technical knowledge is a passion for me and it is something I would do even if it is not financially as rewarding as some other industries due to its unregulated nature in Nigeria. I would advise anyone to choose what they have passion for as customers are getting more demanding and rightly so. This means it is really only the people with the most determination and love for what they do that can go the extra mile that is usually needed to succeed in this very increasingly global and competitive market.
TS: It’s been 39 years since you started business. What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Chief Anyaegbu: Success comes from knowledge and understanding of what you want to do. I gave an example of myself earlier knowing the vehicle components in and out so it would be difficult for someone to try to mislead me in my area of expertise. Working with people that are qualified and most importantly have passion for the industry you are in are more likely to get more job satisfaction and would put in their best into the work. The most valuable resources of a company is their human resources and as long as there is a spirit of teamwork then the sky is the limit. Nevertheless, one of the biggest lessons for me is to make sure that everyone is guided with operational procedures because as a company gets bigger teamwork and consistency gets harder to manage so this would go a long way in delivering consistent service to the ultimate master; which is the customer. They are the reason for our existence and they have never disappointed us, because when you make customer first and their voice is loud within the organization then that company has a future. That is how Chisco keeps being relevant through the decades.
TS: How were you able to transform Chisco Transport (Nig.) Limited into Chisco Group, a conglomerate with various subsidiaries?
Chief Anyaegbu: We have grown organically over the years, putting our love for service of humanity first in everything we do. We don’t enter any industry we are not conversant with and do not feel we can add value to the customers that need that particular product or service. So I would say our growth came from recognizing demand and striving to fulfil that demand of our customers and that is why you would see that our subsidiaries are quite interlinked but have been divided into subsidiaries with autonomous management teams to drive for more market share in their respective fields of expertise. Nevertheless, the business success that transformed us into a conglomerate chain of businesses is that our customers recognize our honesty, transparency, team work, commitment, and passion for adding value.
TS: As a real busy man, how do you combine the responsibility of running your business with family time?I hope you've been able to learn one or two things from this interview.
Chief Anyaegbu: As a business man, I have developed, nurtured and mastered an attitude of taking adequate care of my business without compromising my family responsibilities as a husband, Father, Uncle and social responsibilities to the community. However, I find it very easy to do because my family has been very supportive with lots of understanding and love. In all these things that I do, I have a schedule; and in my schedule my God comes first. Businesses and functions are segmented, shared and assigned to different individuals based on the area of individual expertise to pave way for family and business issues to be done and handled conveniently and at ease.
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