The story of Cletus Ibeto, one of Africa’s inspiring and enterprising billionaires teaches that no matter how your financial situation seems at any point in life, seeing and taking opportunities when others don’t, smart-hard work, perseverance, and the right network can change your status for good.
Born as Cletus Mmadubugwu Ibeto on November 6th, 1952 in Nnewi, Anambra state, Nigeria. Unfortunately, Cletus was the one who got booted from school and was sent off to learn a trade. While his two elder brothers, continued their education. This indeed had a bitter effect on him as he was pained of the decision of his father, not knowing it was a blessing in disguise.
Interestingly, his time as an apprentice with his master was filled with a thorough study of the trade and an inculcation of sheer brilliance in him, which made him a formidable competitor in the market.
The government of Sheu Shagari triggered the big break for Cletus Ibeto. At the time a policy in the country enabled the importation of goods without an import licence. This period helped Ibeto amass a great deal of fortune, which he subsequently put back into his business to grow it sporadically till the import licences were then reintroduced. With the new development and his short quick success, he was able to secure an import licence worth 3 million Naira, at a time when when the value of a dollar was equal to 68 kobo.
With this scarce licence he proceeded to import 65 containers of motor spare parts. His promptness to secure a licence greatly favoured him yet again because, shortly after he had secured his, the country made it almost impossible for anyone to secure an import licence, and to make matters worse for budding entrepreneurs, the government changed hands and the borders closed, temporarily shutting down all forms of importation.
His already available containers give him an upper hand, as he traded when others could not, and so enjoyed a great monopoly the system had unconsciously provided him.
Today Cletus Ibeto is one of the wealthiest people in Nigeria with a net worth in an excess of 3 billion dollars and a vast conglomerate heavily placed in various sectors of the economy, such as cement, automotive parts, petrochemicals, hospitality, real estate, banking & finance and oil & gas.
Furthermore, Cletus Ibeto is not just a billionaire, but a patron to many other billionaires. According to Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors, he said: “If you run into financial problems and go to him for help, he would help you out. Ask any of the big business persons from Nnewi and they would tell you the same thing. He has helped me too.”
Conclusively, Cletus Ibeto’s success story just like many others, depicts the story of a man who sets himself on a journey to greatness and knows exactly how and when to take advantage of an opportunity.