The universal aphorism that greatness is a virtue admired and cherished by many, but only a few have what it takes to be truly great, aptly describes the highly illuminating story of Chief Louis Izuchukwu Onwugbenu. Against all odds, he rose from a humble family background to become one of the most successful men of his generation.
At 60, the life of the Okpata Ozuora Nnewi, popularly known Louis Carter Moore, could best be described as a lesson in resilience, fortitude and doggedness. He is an inspirational portrait of diligence, humility, perseverance, and determination.
Chief Onwugbenu was born on August 15, 1953 to the family of Augustine and Cecilia Onwugbenu of Ndiojukwu Village, Uruagu Nnewi of Anambra State.
My birth coincided with the Assumption date (August 15) observed as a sacred day among the Catholics when the body of the blessed Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, was assumed into Heaven.
Rev. Father Kettles baptized me three weeks after birth on September 13, 1953. He gave me the name, Louis. Rev. Father Kettles mentored many prominent Nnewi indigenes including the late Chief Augustine Ilodibe (Ekene Dili Chukwu), who lived with him as a houseboy. He also used the resources sourced from abroad to embark on projects, which touched the lives of many in the area. It is instructive that the parcel of land hosting the St. Louis’ Catholic Church today was sourced through the joint efforts of my godfather, the late Joseph Okoye, then a school headmaster and Rev. Father Kettles. The memory of this great missionary still inspires me till date.
Though born to great and dedicated Catholic parents who nurtured and laid the foundation, my abiding and deep-rooted faith in God through the Catholic Church and my association with the missionary priests contributed immensely to my success in life. As a true Christian, I ensure that my dealings with my fellow men are according to the teachings of the holy book, which has earned me tremendous trust and confidence from friends and business associates. That also prepared me for the support and contributions to the Church over the years.
Blessed are those who fear God and do His will for they shall reap bountifully. Today I’m counting my blessings because I obey and always apply those injunctions in my business transactions. No doubt I’m moderately rich.
I am a benefactor to many Catholic Priests and Reverend Sisters. I single handedly built a church for my people, that is, the St. Louis Catholic Church, Nwafor Uruagu, Nnewi, which was dedicated in 2003 by the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Hillary Okeke, during the combined ceremony of my 50th birthday and Silver Jubilee of my wedding anniversary. In addition to the Church project, I built a parsonage, church hall and the Nwafor Uruagu Primary School and donated them to my community. I also established Louis Carter Foundation endowed with N10million for indigent students. I have also contributed handsomely to the building of many Churches for both the Catholic and non-Catholic denominations within and outside my own town, Nnewi. I assist the poor and less privileged. My children are all doing well and getting married. With all these and many more you can see what God has done for me because I follow his ways.
I had my primary education at St. John’s Primary School, Egbo Uruagu Nnewi. My quest to draw my academic career to its logical conclusion was, however, truncated midway at the secondary school due to the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967.
The great English writer and author of all times, Williams Shakespeare wrote that ‘Some men are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them while some achieve greatness.’ I fall in the category of this famous quote as I discovered signs of business acumen and ingenuity in me quite early in life when I was 13 years old. My parents, being notable business people at that time specialized in palm produce processing. They saw the business enterprise and potentials in me and began to pave the way at the early stage for me to attain the desired success in my chosen business career. They taught me the rudiment and values of honesty and handwork, which are the hallmark of business life. Till date these values have continued to be my guiding principles.
I gained handsomely in business what I lost in academics. However, undaunted by the ugly civil war experience I began a new phase in life. In 1972, two years after the end of the civil war, I took a plunge into the business waters with the little seed money from my parents. My initial line of business was motor spare parts, which Nnewi people dominated. Little by little and with hard work, honesty and integrity I was equipped to weather any storm in the business world. I gradually graduated into importation of motor parts and have since then continued to record remarkable achievements in business where I can today deservedly stand to be counted.
Like the biblical mustard seed, the small business seed sown by me on the soil of Nnewi has turned into a huge tree with many branches. Today, Louis Carter Group, which is my business name, has grown into large conglomerates with several subsidiaries. My business has expanded beyond the shores of Nigeria and has spread to various continents of the world including Asia, Europe and North America.
Another factor that shaped my life was my close association with the missionary priest who taught me the virtues of hard work, honesty and most importantly, fear of God.
The missionary priests who played important roles in my life include Rev. Father Duncan and Baylon. After their departure, I continued to serve in the Catholic Mission of St John’s Parish, Egbo-Uruagu, Nnewi under the parish priest, Rev. Father Basil Onwuasomba who also contributed to my early life formation.
Indeed, the name ‘Carter Bridge’ came as a result of my routine weekly business trips to Lagos, frequenting Lagos about three times every week. My watchword of honesty and hard work which my parents and close contacts with the missionary priests inculcated in me were later to be the stabilizing force of influence in my business. Those that I have crossed their paths during business transactions and social life have always noticed my forthrightness, transparency and humility and this endears me to them.
Overtime, virtue and fate have continued to smile on Louis Carter Group as the empire is not only a trademark but has steadily continued to grow into conglomerate with interest in manufacturing, agriculture, food processing, general merchandise and real estate.
As a world-renowned entrepreneur, selfless man and philanthropist through and through, I have traversed various world capitals where I constantly apply my phenomenal business talent to further my business expansions, becoming a multi-millionaire before the age of 30.
Having achieved amazing success at a young age, at 38, I had started contributing to so many developmental projects within and outside my hometown of Nnewi. Among such major contributions was the magnificent lecture theater, which I built and donated to student nurses of Nnewi medical campus of the then Anambra State University of Science and Technology, ASUTECH, which was commissioned by the former military governor of the state, Lt. Col. Herbeth Obieze (retd) in July 1991. It is instructive to note that commissioning of the lecture theater, among other considerations, gave impetus to the upgrading of the state university to its current federal status.
I believe in human development; and that is why I have deep interest in education. As such, I have awarded many scholarships to indigent students from primary schools to postgraduate levels. Also, this passion for providing quality education to the less privileged compelled me to build primary and secondary schools in the premises of St. Louis’ Catholic Church, Uruagu Nnewi. I was struck by apparent lack of space and had to pull down the old school structure and in its place, erected a two-floor ultra-modern primary school structure. I acquired another property already restructured and renovated for use as a secondary school (St. Louis’ Secondary School) to absorb primary school graduates in the same school. The schools were commissioned in commemoration of my 60th birthday.
By 1977, having accomplished much in business I was already longing for a life partner and the yearning found satisfaction in Patricia, a beautiful and well cultivated daughter of the late Sir Anthony and Lady Roseline Ojukwu, former catechist of St. John’s Cross, Egbo, Nnewi. With God’s approval, Pat and I were joined in marriage on October 21, 1978. We are blessed with eight loving children and grandchildren.
I am not a man who seeks vainglory. My contributions and service to humanity continue to elicit accolades and recognition through various awards and chieftaincy titles. Prominent among them is Okpata Ozuorah, Nnewi (a man whose wealth extends to others) conferred on me by the traditional ruler of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Orizu III. Indeed, I have paid my dues and will continue to be a model for upcoming young business entrepreneurs in the country to aspire for greater heights even in the face of daunting challenges.
In spite of my blessings, I live a simple and selfless life devoid of the ostentation that goes with wealth. My level of humility is disarming. My life is an inspirational portrait of a man of diligence, humility, perseverance and determination. I love a life of simplicity.
Young entrepreneurs must shun greed, which could lead to betrayal of confidence. I have zero tolerance for greed and that is why I am successful today because I apply the virtues of honesty and transparency in my dealings with others.
If you are greedy and betray confidence people have in you, you are bound to fail in business. I give you an example, a prominent Nigerian who is a very close relation of mine, two years ago, betrayed the confidence I have in him because of greed. But God has continued to shower His blessings on my family and me. And the young man, where is he today?