MAKING OF THE MAN, SUNDAY EZEOBIORA; FROM SPARE-PARTS TO AGRO INVESTMENT
By Onyinye Okeke
When one Sunday Ezeobiora, who was later known as Sunny Vespa, was taken as apprentice servant to Kano by his uncle in 1978, hardly did he realise what Providence was preparing for him.
With just Standard six certificate, he was able to conquer the business world, and became one of the leading names in the motorcycle parts business and agro investment.
Sunday Ezeobiora finished his primary school education in 1978, and in July 1978, his uncle took him as an apprentice servant to Kano. Primary school education is the only formal education he acquired.
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Sunny Vespa’s business ingenuity has no link with educational attainment but doggedness, the strength of character and innate desire to succeed even in unfavorable situations.
Despite acquiring only standard six certificates (as it was called then), Sunday Ezeobiora set out on a new journey to Kano State to begin a new adventure as an apprentice.
He left his hometown, Amesi in Aguata local government area, Anambra State at the age of 18, to learn about bicycle spare-parts from his uncle between 1978 and 1983.
After he served his uncle for five years and five months, his uncle decided to settle him after the years of service and dedication. But he first had to send the little Sunday to learn about motorcycle spare parts which were a new spare-parts business in vogue at that time. He learned general motorcycle spare-parts for five months after which he opened a business and started selling motorcycle spare parts from April 1983; and later specialized in Vespa parts, which gave him the name Sunny Vespa.
The name, Sunny Vespa, took over his real name, Sunday Ezeobiora, and became a household name in Kano and the motorcycle spare-parts world of business.
Sunny Vespa bought most of his goods from Onitsha and Nkwo-Nnewi and transported them to Kano for sale.
Sunny Vespa, as he was then known and addressed, imbibed the mindset of think home philosophy early in life. In December 1991, after coming home for Christmas break, he made the move to continue his business in Nkwo-Nnewi Market, the biggest motorcycle spare-parts market in Nigeria and West Africa. His move to Nnewi came as a necessity after the Kano crisis in 1991, because, according to him, “An elderly person would not be reminded to leave the fireplace”.
In November 1986, Sunny Vespa traveled to Italy and started importation business. From Italy, he also made inroads to Taiwan and China from where he imported general motorcycle spare parts.
Sunday Ezeobiora was forced out of Nnewi, after an attempt to kidnap him was frustrated for the third time.
Sunny Vespa said that one of his kinsmen who lived with him was the one that masterminded the kidnap attempt.
The sudden shift of Sunny Vespa, from Nnewi to Enugu, made him consider the need to diversify his business. The Business Mogul reasoned “A man doesn’t stay at a place to watch masquerades”.
In Enugu, he started tire manufacturing company with Innoson; but it couldn’t work out, and the outfit was folded.
The wife of the business Mogul, Chinyere Ezeobiora, who used to rear chicken in Nnewi in small scale, desired to continue the business in large scale; thus, the birth of Sunchi Farms in 2013.
Chinyere Ezeobiora is the managing director of the farm, while his husband, Sunday, is the CEO.
Sunchi Farm is home to over one thousand birds which is reared for breeding, and for food. The farm also breeds thousands of Catfishes for sale.
A tour of the farm was exceedingly exciting as it has a world class incubation facility, grinding machine for the production of chicken feed, and oil extracting machine for the production of soya bean oil. Every waste generated in the farm either serves as feed for the fish or is properly disposed of. The Sunshine Farm is among the top five best performing farms in South-East and South-South regions.
Despite these milestones, the farm faces lots of challenges.
The CEO laments the cost of running indigenous businesses in the South-east. He claimed that there is an unwritten policy for businesses in the region to fail. He talked about the ten percent (10%) increment in electricity tariff for businesses in the region; as against what obtains among their counterparts in the South-west, who enjoy lower electricity tariff and tax holidays.
He called on appropriate authorities to legislate for equal electricity tariff just like the pump price that is universally equal.
He commended the Enugu State government for all their efforts and assistance; and added that more could be done to encourage South East businesses.
He maintained that diversifying into agriculture does not slow down his motorcycle spare parts business; that he runs them simultaneously and successfully, even as he still ranks among the top three contenders in motor-cycle spare parts business in Nigeria.