Africa: How God is Good Motors GIGM Sustained a Generational transition from Father to Son


Ekene Dili Chukwu Transport. NIPROC. Ugo Foam. Tabansi Records. Gina Soft Drinks. What do these companies have in common? They were all pioneering business in Nigeria. Many are no longer in operation today.

This situation is not peculiar to Southeast Nigeria. According to Harvard Business Review, about 70 percent of family-owned businesses fail before they are transitioned to the second generation; only about 10 percent remain active into the third generation.

There is a myriad of reasons for these failures: poor governance, poor succession planning, failure to corporatize, family conflicts, failure to prepare the next generation, etc. According to a 2018 PwC report, “while there is a strong intent to pass businesses to the next generation, appropriate structures for ensuring this happens are mostly lacking among (family businesses) in Nigeria.”

The story is different with God Is Good Motors (now known as GIGM). Edwin and Stella Ajaere, who co-founded the business, must have done something right with their business processes and also with the way they raised their children. When Edwin was kidnapped and subsequently murdered in March 2009, his son, Chidi, who was then 21 years old, returned from his studies to take over the business.

At this time, “God Is Good Motors” competed in the crowded bus transport business with about 100 buses and about 200 employees. Today, Chidi has expanded the business to employ about 3,000 people and close to 1,000 buses. In 2015, he rebranded “God Is Good Motors” to GIGM and has catapulted the bus business to the top of the market.

As Executive Chairman of The GIG Group, Chidi has further expanded into the power sector, downstream oil and gas, logistics, shuttle services, etc.

How was “God Is Good” able to pass the baton from the founding generation to the next one even under very tragic circumstances? What factors enabled them to break through such difficult moments? What processes are in place to ensure that the business will be transitioned to the next generation? What can other family businesses learn from the GIG story? Now do we ensure that the many businesses around today will remain profitable after we are all gone?

Nkátá Ụmụ Ịbe is a monthly distinguished speaker series organized by the Centre for Memories (Ncheta Ndigbo) with support from Enugu Sports Club. The series has held every month since May 2018.

Join us at the December 2019 Nkátá Ụmụ Ịbe as Chidi Ajaere presents, “IKEMEFUNA: PASSING THE BATON FOR POSTERITY”. The session will hold on the Friday, December 06, 2019 at the Enugu Sports Club (1 Club Avenue, G.R.A. Enugu).

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