Nigerian-born Emmanuel O. Irono has never allowed hard work, late hours or even overwhelming odds to deter him from remaining focused and diligent in the pursuit of his goals, dreams and heartfelt destiny.
Thus, it should come as no great surprise that, Irono, president and CEO of MOTIR Services, Inc., joined a group of other equally talented minority and women entrepreneurs all from the greater Washington area, chosen as 2018 Top 100 100 MBE honorees during an annual awards program last fall.
The award, sponsored by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC) since 2007, recognizes owners of minority business enterprises in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. who have exhibited exceptional business acumen, professionalism, served as role models and made contributions of note to their respective communities.
Irono, presented with the honor during the CRMSDC’s 37th annual Leaders and Legends Awards Ceremony, Nov. 2, at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, reflected on the arduous road he’s traveled from his African homeland to the U.S. and the District where, after completing his studies and cutting his teeth as a federally-contracted budget analyst, made a $10,000 investment and transformed a once-struggling janitorial service company into a $30 million profit generator.
District-based MOTIR, established in 1991 and renamed to honor his parents (Memory of Theresa Irono Romanus), serves as a performance-based provider of a broad range of contract services to federal, state, municipal and commercial clients.
“The award highlights our accomplishments in business and our contributions to the economic well-being of the local community,” he said adding that during its 24 year-history, MOTIR, like so many other small businesses in the U.S., has successfully overcome numerous, challenging economic periods.
“I believe our commitment to providing job opportunities to individuals in Ward 8 is what continues to drive MOTIR’s success and passion — it’s ultimately the reason we’re [still] in business,” said Irono, who bears the responsibility of leading and directing the company’s administration, corporate governance, marketing, finance and contracts, readily relying, he emphasizes, on the skills of his wife who co-owns the business.
In fact, he says family has served as the crux of his company’s policies and formula of success.
“MOTIR is named and dedicated to my father, mother and family,” he said. “It is very important to me to keep their legacy alive through my social entrepreneurial efforts and it’s my hope that my three children, Chidera, Ekene and Obinna, will continue the vision,” he said.
“As an African who has benefited from opportunities here in the U.S., I believe African Americans should explore opportunities in Africa and build relationships that benefit both cultures,” Irono added.
The company has undoubtedly found its niche, given its impressive growth.
“We have a combination of corporate, regular full-time/part-time and even temporary employees exceeding 250 employees in the D.C. metropolitan area,” he noted. “We gain new employees through community engagement, on-going job fairs, referrals and digital advertising. And we support our staff from application in-take, onboarding, credentialing, proficiency testing to practical on-site coaching and training.”
Irono says he enjoys the challenges associated with being a small business owner but warns that it’s not for everyone.
“If being an entrepreneur is your passion than you should pursue that path. However, it comes at a high price for many of us in terms of time, energy and commitment. I’d encourage those hoping to become entrepreneurs to think clearly about their willingness to make similar sacrifices,” he said.
“Also, they should seek out a mentor who can help them navigate a path to success. We need more social entrepreneurs in the District to create jobs and pathways out of poverty.”
Proven commitment to the local community in a variety of ways has been integral to Irono’s personal philosophy and has long served as one of the pillars for his business — something that still weighs significantly in the final selection of those businesses and their leaders chosen as Top 100 MBEs by CRMSDC’s panel of judges each year.
“MOTIR is always excited to support Ward 8 youth, particularly since our company was founded in Ward 8 and most of our staff live in that community,” Irono said.
“Anything we can do to enhance their out-of-school time is worthwhile. The basketball program we support is an opportunity to do just that during which we encourage the youth to use the opportunity to strengthen their talents and skills,” he said.
While MOTIR utilizes cutting-edge technology as an integral element of its services, using innovative solutions that are unique to 21st century challenges while creating measuring and sustaining value for its clients for world-class value-added services, Irono says he’s never abandoned his decision to remain an active partner and leader within the community.
“My wife and I share a common vision for empowering people through job creation and workforce development at MOTIR,” he said.
“One of our key goals is to provide more comprehensive services to individuals seeking opportunity in Ward 8 and we’re pursuing strategic partnerships with organizations, community leaders and like-minded businesses to establish programs to meet the economic development needs of this community while we offer training, mentoring and exercise second-chance opportunities for residents,” Irono said.
The Top 100 MBE awards were created to recognize enterprising minority entrepreneurs who fuel the region’s economy through their innovation, sacrifices and dedication. These business owners, according to words shared on CRMSDC’s website, are living their dreams and making significant contributions to their clients, professions, industries and communities.