Stella Okoli: an Amazon in the pharmaceutical industry

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Stella Okoli,MD Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited

Stella Okoli,MD Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited

Brief biography
Stella Chinyelu Okoli is the founder cum managing director/chief executive officer, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited. She holds B.Pharm (Hons.) from Bradford University (1969) and M.Sc. Biopharmaceutics from the University of London – Chelsea College (1971), and has over 27 years of experience as a practicing and manufacturing pharmacist.

Positions held
Stella was chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; member, Economic Summit of Nigeria; and member, Health Matters Advisory Board of Nigeria. She has been a non-executive director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc since April 22, 2010.

Stella worked in various capacities at Middlesex Hospital, London; Boots Chemists, London; and Part Davis Nigeria, now Pharma-Deko, before opening a retail outlet in 1977.

Early beginnings
Emzor started as a retailing chemist shop in January 1977 and today, the company is a force to reckon with in the pharmaceutical sector and other medical products. Emzor was integrated fully into the Nigerian market in 1984 and commenced pilot manufacturing in 1986 with the aim of producing standardised pharmaceutical and medical products. It was also to meet the need to produce drugs locally so as to help create job opportunities as well as manufacture drugs with high standards that are available and affordable to all. In June 12, 2009, Okoli’s efforts at ensuring top quality products paid off as Emzor received the NIS ISO 9001:2000 certification.

Programmes attended
She attended the Executive Management programmes of the Harvard Business School, Boston, United States for owner-managers from 1997 to 1999, the Chief Executive Management programme of the Lagos Business School, as well as IESE Barcelona. She has also attended numerous strategic management courses both in Nigeria and overseas.

Products
Emzor Paracetamol has taken over 25 percent of the palliative market in Nigeria. The company has spread its tentacles by producing over 60 varieties. They include vitamins, anti-malarials, analgesics, haematinics, anti-tussives, antibiotics, anti-helmintics, anti-histamine, antacid, and cardio-protective drugs.

Locations
Emzor Pharmaceuticals has offices in Nigeria, India, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Mali.

Branching out
Emzor now has established subsidiaries. One is Zolon Healthcare Limited, Lagos, which provides health care solutions to all. This came to be as a result of building partnerships with revered organisations. Areas of concentration in this subsidiary include Oncology, Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology, Paediatric and Geriatric Medicine, Biotechnology, Health Fairs/Seminars, Neuropsychiatry, Endocrinology, Cardiology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

There is also Emzor Hesco Limited, which was launched to provide standard hospital equipment, consumables and appliances that ease the process of diagnosis and disease detection and management.

COCES/COF
Chike Okoli Foundation (COF), a non-governmental organisation, was founded by Stella after the death of her son, Chike, who died of coronary artery disease five days after his 25th birthday.

COF has trained about 1,600 young people in science in the spirit of entrepreneurial studies.

Chike Okoli Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (COCES) is a multi-purpose ultra-modern edifice located in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. According to Stella, “The Foundation has reached out to over five million people across Nigeria informing them of the growing dangers of cardiovascular diseases and how to make lifestyle interventions.”

In 2012, The COF in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Education organised the first edition of Grassroots Cardiovascular Health Campaign in ten selected senior secondary schools in the state.

Mentorship
Stella mentors other local manufacturers and encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to invest in the pharmaceutical industry, first, as her contribution to building a healthy nation, and second, in pursuit of Nigeria’s quest for self-sufficiency.

Stella’s catchphrase
“Healthcare should be affordable and readily available.”

Honours
Stella has received various national and international recognitions, which include Member of the Order of the Niger (MON); Fellow, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria; Outstanding Service Award; Rotary International 21000 and ECOWAS International Gold Award; and the International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award.

In January 2012, Stella Okoli was awarded Honours for her service to enterprise and industry at the 17th ThisDay Annual Awards.

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10 Elements of Good Practice in Corporate-Community Engagement — Lessons Learned from Chevron Nigeria Limited’s GMOU

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In the wake of a violent inter-ethnic crisis in 2003, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) — the third largest oil producer in Nigeria — dramatically reshaped its community engagement strategy. The new process, known as the ‘GMOU’ model, was named for the formal agreements called General Memoranda of Understanding signed between the company and clusters of communities impacted by the company’s onshore operations and government.

In one of the most challenging contexts in the world — where relationships between communities and companies have long been characterized by substantial mistrust and antagonism — the GMOU model is now succeeding where other approaches have fallen short. While still far from perfect, at its core, the GMOU model has helped transform relationships between the company and surrounding stakeholder communities, leading to better outcomes for residents and the company.

Through our involvement as process designers, facilitators, and capacity builders in this effort, the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) has identified 10 components of effective corporate stakeholder engagement that can be applied to a variety of scales and particular problem-sets.  Listed below in brief, these elements collectively speak to the importance of viewing stakeholder engagement as negotiated partnership built around the premise of shared gains, a commitment to fairness, and equitable participation in decision-making. Read the full case text here.

1) Creating a Greater Sense of Fairness in the Process: There are always substantive issues to be addressed between companies and communities.  However, equally important is the way in which both parties engage and negotiate with each other to address them. The creation and implementation of the GMOUs and regional development councils – responsible for guiding collective engagement and negotiation of community benefit agreements — gave community stakeholders a larger role in setting the terms of the conversation, and the process for interacting. This shift created a greater sense of fairness in the process. It was also a key step towards overcoming the long-standing perception of a power imbalance between the company and communities, and helped create some of the key conditions for productive interaction and problem solving.
 
2) Enabling the Community to Choose its Representatives: Often, companies choose individuals that hold more favorable views of the company, or exclude community leaders that they find difficult or confrontational.  Such approaches fail to address the full range of interests and views held by a community, and often interfere with underlying social and community dynamics, of which companies can be painfully unaware.  This can lead to unsustainable agreements, and in the worst case, contribute to underlying social conflict in a society.
 
3) Jointly Setting the Agenda: Companies should not be the only ones defining the issues for engagement and negotiation, as they often exclude issues that are of primary importance to community stakeholders. The GMOU model created a single platform for dialogue between the company and each group of communities for the vast majority of issues.  This enabled both the communities and the company to put issues on the table for dialogue and negotiation. One party may not always be able to address all issues to the satisfaction of the other party, but the issue can be raised and addressed within the limits of each party’s authority.  
 
4) Pursuing Meaningful Partnership and Shared Ownership:  Often, communities are treated as the beneficiaries of the company’s good will.  Companies, often without realizing it, continue to dictate the terms of dialogue, drive the relationships, and impose their viewpoint and interests on communities.  Under the GMOU model, CNL took significant steps to pursue meaningful partnership and shared ownership with communities.  The model invested substantial responsibility and authority for social investment decision-making in the communities themselves, while maintaining an oversight role for the company through multi-stakeholder governance structures.
 
5) Utilizing Participatory Approaches and ‘Joint Fact Finding’: In contexts of mistrust, participatory approaches to reviewing past performance, current options and constraints become critical, in order to build shared, credible information as a basis for joint decision-making. When the first generation of GMOU agreements approached expiration, CNL proposed an evaluation of the GMOU mechanism before negotiating the next generation of GMOU agreements. Rather than hiring substantive experts to conduct the evaluation, neutral facilitators were brought in to help develop and run a completely transparent process in which the parties to the GMOU designed the evaluation methodology and then jointly analyzed the data that emerged from interviews and focus groups.  As a result, the parties jointly arrived at conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of the GMOU model, laying a credible foundation for the renegotiation process.  In addition, these kinds of participatory approaches create opportunities for companies and communities to strengthen their relationships by working ‘side-by-side’.
 
6) Using Jointly Selected Professional Facilitators to Build Trust:  At the time the GMOU model was first proposed, community mistrust was so high, they rejected the model simply because CNL was proposing it, and they presumed bad faith on the part of the company. CNL has engaged professional facilitators (both local and international) to broker relationships between the company and community throughout the process.
 
7) Building a Flexible, Adaptable Model:  The GMOU was an experiment, and there were (and still are) imperfections in the design and implementation of the model.   However, the parties moved forward with the process, despite some reluctance from all sides, and created both the platform for dialogue and the processes to enable community development projects to proceed.  The model also included the ability to adapt and improve as it performed. Adaptation took place through joint stakeholder evaluation of the model, at the end of each of the first 3-year cycles.  As weaknesses were identified through the evaluations, improving upon them became a key objective of the renegotiation processes.  This investment has enabled the GMOU to learn from its performance and adapt accordingly.
 
8) Recognizing and Addressing Capacity Gaps:  On the community development side, the GMOU placed substantial responsibility on the newly created Regional Development Councils (RDCs) to be able to manage a portfolio of community development projects.  However, at their establishment, the RDCs lacked both the basic operational functionality and the development expertise required.  One of the roles of the NGOs in the GMOU structure was to provide training and assistance to the RDCs.  When it later became clear that inadequate communication with constituents threatened to undermine the GMOU model, strengthening the capacity of the RDCs became a shared objective for both CNL and the RDCs, and CNL ultimately established an additional fund to enable an NGO consortium to provide ongoing training and support to RDC leadership.
 
9) Incremental Approaches to Building Trust: Trust cannot be built overnight.  The GMOU provided opportunities for both company and communities to begin to make commitments and deliver on those commitments, to demonstrate that they could each be credible counterparts, and to build trust incrementally through that process.  This is best done through confidence-building measures in lower-stakes contexts first, rather than immediately rushing into high-stakes negotiations. The expiration of the GMOUs after 3 years was one way in which the stakes were lowered for both sides.  A time-bound agreement enabled both parties to move ahead, knowing that they would have an opportunity to re-evaluate performance of the model.
 
10) Relying on Internal Champions: Having internal champions who understand the drivers that make the model work remains essential, particularly as those with direct experience rotate to other positions within the company.Support from individuals within CNL was key to be able to address staff concerns and gain sufficient buy-in for the project to move forward. Several of the individuals supporting the GMOU process had experience with similar processes that had worked in other regions where Chevron operated. Key to maintaining support for the GMOU was the personal interest and participation of a hand-full of CNL operations managers who recognized the GMOUs’ importance in enabling the company to operate.

Throwback: ARINZE EJIOFOR – NNA ANYI BI NA ENU IGWE (1981)…{Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Dad}

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Arinze Ejiofor

Arinze Ejiofor

Highlife singer/atilogwu dancer Arinze Ejiofor, whose promising career was cut short when he perished in an auto accident in 1988. His son, Chiwetel, has gone on to a distinguished career as an actor.

African novels to look out for this year, 2013

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This year is looking good for African writing. We should expect new discoveries and fresh voices to emerge from the continent as there are still stories yet to be told whilst those who have already proven themselves will likely wax stronger. This is who we expect to rock:

Noviolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)

Noviolet Bulawayo

Noviolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names is the lovely title of the forthcoming debut novel by Noviolet Bulawayo (pen name of Elizabeth Tshele). Noviolet won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 for her story Hitting Budapest.

According to Libyan author Hisham Matar, who was one of the Caine Prize Judges: “The language of Hitting Budapest crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language. Noviolet’s works are intensely lyrical and moving, while engaging with real social issues. She is a 2012-2014 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. We Need New Names comes out in May.

Teju Cole (Nigeria)

Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Writer, art historian, street photographer, Teju Cole (his real name is Obayemi Babajide Adetokunbo Onafuwa) was born in the United States to Nigerian parents, raised in Nigeria, and moved back to the US at the age of 17. His first book, a novella, Everyday is for the Thief, was published in Nigeria in 2007 by Cassava Republic. Cole has earned flattering comparisons to literary heavyweights like JM Coetzee, WG Sebald and Henry James for his second book, Open City (Faber 2011), a novel described as “finely written” and “free-flowing form with no plot, narrated by a scholarly solitary walker”.

Teju Cole is also well known for the compact stories he crafts on his Twitter account called Small Fates. These Tweet-sized narratives are based on odd stories drawn from small news items in newspapers. Last year Cole was included in the panel of judges for the inaugural twitter fiction festival “a virtual storytelling celebration” featuring “creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world”. I have a hunch that he will spring up surprises in 2013 and delve into greater adventures in the world of arts.

Lauren Beukes (South Africa)

Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes

Shining Girls is a novel much raved about from Lauren Beukes, one of the finest genre writers in the continent. Her first novel was Moxyland but her major break came with Zoo City, a hardboiled thriller set in a re-imagined Johannesburg. Zoo City won the 2011 Arthur C Clarke award, the 2010 Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel and was short-listed for several other prizes and the film rights have been sold.

In 2011, HarperCollins brokered a six-figure sum deal at the Frankfurt Book fair for Shining Girls and plans to publish it in May this year. In Shining Girls, The Time Traveler’s Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in this story of a time-traveling serial killer who is impossible to trace, until one of his victims survives.

Taiye Selasi (Ghana)

Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi

Selasi met Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison at Oxford in 2005. She was introduced by Morrison’s niece, the producer of a play she had written as a graduate student. Morrison invited Selasi to her home when they returned to the States. Morrison subsequently encouraged Selasie to pen her first story The Sex Lives of African Girls which was published in Granta magazine in 2011 in its feminism issue and appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012.

In 2010 Ann Godoff at Penguin Press bought Selasi’s unfinished novel and Ghana Must Go is now set to be published in 15 countries in 2013. The novel opens with a scene of a father who is about to die and traces the saga of his disintegrating family back to Africa. Ghana Must Go is widely tipped as one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year.

Victor Ehikhamenor (Nigeria)

Victor Ehikhamenor

Victor Ehikhamenor

Excuse me, Ehikhamenor’s newly released collection of essays, is a book of wit and humour. What began as a weekly column of the same title, while he served as Nigeria’s NEXT Newspaper’s first creative director, evolved into a book of satirical proportions. These funny pieces draw heavily on the experiences of everyday life in Nigeria as well as from the lives of Nigerians abroad.

Victor graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, USA and has won awards for his works including the 2008 Leon Forest Scholar Fiction Award and a Breadloaf Scholarship.

Alain Mabanckou (Congo)

Alain Mabanckou

Alain Mabanckou

Franco-Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou is among the best known and most successful writers in the French language and one of the best known African writers in France. Sometimes referred to as Africa’s Samuel Beckett, Mabanckou was selected by Vanity Fair as one of the continent’s greatest living writers.

His works include Black Bazaar, Memoirs of a Porcupine, African Psycho and Broken Glass and his style has been described as colloquial and highly entertaining. He is also prolific, Mabanckou’s latest offering Tomorrow I Will be Twenty Years Old is set to be published in May this year. Drawn from his own childhood experiences the book recounts the story of ten year old Michel living in Pointe Noire, Congo in the 1970s.

Sarah Lotz (South Africa)

Sarah Lotz

Sarah Lotz

Lotz is an award-winning author and scriptwriter who has published three novels Tooth and Nailed, Exhibit A and Pompidou Posse. Sarah writes urban horror novels under the name SL Grey with author Louis Greenberg and a Young Adult zombie series with her daughter, Savannah, under the name Lily Herne. Lotz recently accepted a pre-emptive six-figure offer from UK publishers Hodder and Stoughton for her novel The Three and another book.

Igoni Barrett (Nigeria)

Igoni Barrett

Igoni Barrett

Igoni Barrett, one of the finest writers around, was the winner of the BBC World Service short story competition for 2005. His first book, a collection of short stories entitled From Caves of Rotten Teeth, was first published in 2005 and re-issued in 2008. Known for the raw energy of his prose and characters that feel alive on the page, Barrett’s new collection of stories Love Is Power, Or Something Like That is due to be published in the UK, US and Nigeria in June. I encourage you to put it on your list of must-reads for 2013.

Mehul Gohil (Kenya)

Mehul Gohil

Mehul Gohil

Mehul Gohil is a writer born and living in Nairobi, Kenya. He won the Kenya I Live In short story competition organised in 2010 by Kwani Trust for his short story Farah Aideed Goes To Gulf War. He has previously been published in Kwani 06. Those hungry for his first book hopefully won’t have to wait long.

Rachel Zadok (South Africa)

Rachel Zadok

Rachel Zadok

In 2005 Rachel was nominated for the Whitbread First Novel Award for her novel Gem Squash Tokoloshe, which was also a finalist in the UK TV presenters’ Richard and Judy How to Get Published competition. The book is a story of the dissolution of a marriage seen through the eyes of an innocent child in rural South Africa. Gem Squash Tokoloshe was widely seen as marking the arrival of a young writer to be reckoned with.

This year Rachel’s second book Sister Sister (Kwela Books) is being released in South Africa in April. It is the story of the gregarious bright Thuli and her stuttering, introverted twin Sindi. In childhood they are inseparable outcasts but the arrival of an uncle they never knew they had sets into motion a course of events that will destroy their relationship and, eventually, their lives. You might want to read this one with the lights on if I know anything about Rachel’s ability to write stories that crawl along your spine.

Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria)

Cover of Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Cover of Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Okorafor is the author of Who Fears Death, The Shadow Speaker and Zahrah the Windseeker and has won many awards for her works. Her collection of short stories KabuKabu, will officially be released October 2013.

Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda)

Beatrice Lamwaka

Beatrice Lamwaka

Short-listed for the Caine prize in 2011 for her story Butterfly Dreams, Lamwaka is the General Secretary of the Uganda Women Writers Association. She was a finalist for the 2009 SA PEN/Studzinski Literary Award and was a fellow of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation/African Institute of South Africa Young Scholars programme that year. Lamwaka is currently working on her first novel and a compilation of her short stories.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Celebrated novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie returns with a new novel Americanah. The title comes from the word Nigerians use for those who have left the country for the US and become “Americanised” – a borderline insult. With three books to her name and a clutch of literary prizes, Chimamanda is one of the most beloved and critically lauded writers working today. Americanah comes out in May.