From hawking bean cake (akara) at the age of five to becoming a billionaire – the story of Cosmas Maduka


Publicly available records show that Cosmos Maduka was born on December 24, 1958 in Nnewi, a town in Anambra State of Nigeria. Unfortunately, his father died just a few years after his birth, thereby leaving his mother to take care of him and the rest of his siblings.

But today, Dr. Cosmas Maduka is the Founder and Chairman of Coscharis Group of Companies and sole distributor for BMW in Nigeria.

From almost zero capital, Mr. Maduka was able to build his business from the ground into a conglomerate. Forbes dubbed him ‘The $500-Million Survivor’. Cosmas Maduka’s success story is one of determination and hard work.

What can you possibly learn from a man that did not complete primary education?

We curate some of his most inspiring quotes on success and his journey, we thought you, our reader will find his insights useful.

Maduka once said:

“At the age of five, my mother was already making sure we worked or contributed to making ends meet for the family. I would go out early in the morning, just as the day is breaking, to go and grind beans for my mother to fry akara.”

Maduka had to learn the hard way by assisting his mother to sell Akara otherwise called bean cake after his father died.

“My mother will fry Akara for me to go and sell in the morning, he says of his experience as a kid entrepreneur. I will sell two trays full of Akara before my older brother will finish selling his own because I would smile at customers holding their clothes. They will tell me ‘no’ but I will respond: ‘my mother said you cannot say no to me’. They will all burst into laughter. They wondered where I got the wisdom from. Hence people would buy from me even when they are not in the mood to eat or buy Akara. I grew up very optimistic that nothing can stand before me. Nothing is impossible for me.”

Maduka once said, his mother has become a critical reference point in his entrepreneurial journey.

“She discovered my entrepreneurial spirit what you now call child abuse explains Maduka. When you talk about strong women who knew where they were going in life, and why my mother was my angel, sometimes I don’t like to talk about her because It brings me to tears. Some years ago, my mother looked me straight in the eye and told me to believe in myself. She told me people won’t believe in me unless I believe in myself. She told me that people cannot say no to me unless I say no to myself. She convinced me that people like me that I am a likable fellow. People don’t understand what it means to encourage children to enable them to actualize their potentials. After God created Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:26, the first word he spoke to them was to be fruitful. Be there is an active verb. A command on a potential, I have put something inside of you, bring it out. That was just what my mother told me that there was something about me.”

Maduka once said:

“This was actually the turning point where I made a quantum leap. I made money that drug pushers could not make because it was a seller’s market. From there I bought the building in Maza-maza. I bought the place in 1984 and by 1986, I had built it up to what it is now and started manufacturing some motorcycle parts. The success was like wildfire and I had enough money. So, I built on it and started doing so many things.”

Maduka believes,

“The best university any young man can go to because it was a system where there was no contractual agreement. If you did not behave yourself, you were sent back home to the village, but if you performed, your master would give you start-up capital for your own business at the end of your apprenticeship. I believe apprenticeship is the best university to go to. If you give a formally educated person N1 million and an apprentice N100, 000, I believe in five years, the apprentice will be able to catch up to the university student and overtake him”. 

In spite of all the challenges life threw on his path, Maduka set a goal to be a millionaire at 25

“I can say I owned about $2 million before 25 years. Success goes like a wildfire. Once you are successful in one area in life it will replicate in other areas. I don’t regard anyone as my competitor. The only person who can compete with me is somebody who thinks like me. If we think differently, you are not my competitor because our value systems will be different. The things that motivate me are different. I live my own life in my own independent way. I have a clear thought on where I want to be in life when I embraced Christ.”

Maduka once said: “Apprenticeship is the best school for any young man, as it teaches unprecedented discipline for the challenges of the future”. Choosing a mentor is the most critical step to success in life, whether it is in business, career, relationship or politics. A mentor challenges and stimulates you to be the best at all times. A real mentor helps in discovering and nurturing the gift and potentials in others. Mentoring is the most monitored, measurable and sustainable way of ensuring youth empowerment.

Maduka once said,

“I hail from Nnewi in Anambra state, and to an average Igbo man, a shop is a religion, you don’t joke with the shop. Even one of our elderly kinsmen was at the point of death, three of his children went to visit him, on his sick bed, he called each one by name and asked them who they left the shops for? His death didn’t stop the shops from being opened. It is a taboo to close the shop.  For those who do not know, if you are having a conversation with an Igbo man, and you are not getting his attention, close his shop. He will listen,”.