Stella Okoli: an Amazon in the pharmaceutical industry


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.


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


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.

54 Ways to say “I Love You”; in Africa


I Love You

I Love You

It’s the month of love!
Forget roses.

We’ve got 54 unique ways to show your love–one for each country within Africa.
And if you want to learn how to say “I love you” in 54 African languages, start practicing with our language list!

Algeria: Read a love poem written in French, one of the languages of Algeria

Angola: Give a back massage with palm oil, sourced in Angola

Benin: Listen to a bedtime story sung by Angelique Kidjo from Benin, a Grammy-Award winner

Botswana: Buy a piece of jewelry—maybe a ring?—with diamonds mined in Botswana



Burkina Faso: Serve a gluten-free sorghum beer, brewed in Burkina Faso

Burundi: Bake heart shaped cookies with sugar exported from Burundi

Cameroon: Make a ceramic heart-shaped dish, with the clay found in the highlands in Cameroon

Cape Verde: Drink Portuguese-style wine, made in the vineyards of Cape Verde

Central African Republic: Make a rich, vanilla-flavored tapioca pudding for dessert, made from cassava imported from Central African Republic

Chad: Listen to a love ballad played on a kinde, a harp from Chad

Comoros: Delight in a triple-thick vanilla milkshake, flavored with natural vanilla imported from the Comoros

Congo-Brazzaville: Learn to paint at the Poto Poto School of Painters in Brazzaville, Congo

Congo-Kinshasa: Watch the film When We Were Kings, about Mohammad Ali’s famous match against George Foreman in Kinshasa, known at the time as the famed “Rumble in the Jungle”

Cote d’Ivoire: Buy a gold mask to hang on the wall, from extensive collections crafted in Cote d’Ivoire

Djibouti: Get a hand-woven wool rug from Djibouti to keep your feet warm

Egypt: Purchase tickets to the Cairo International Film Festival

Equatorial Guinea: Drink a cup of osang tea, grown organically in Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea: Read My Father’s Daughter by Hannah Pool, a heartwarming book about an Eritrean girl adopted by a British family



Ethiopia: Wake up to the smell of coffee, made with beans sourced from Ethiopia

Gabon: Obtain a stone sculpture of a woman’s face, items for which Gabon’s artisans are famous

Gambia: Take a bird watching trip for two around MacCarthy Island, an ornithologically rich part of The Gambia.

Ghana: Serve authentic Ghanaian dark chocolate, the birthplace of the cocoa bean

Guinea: Take a stroll down the streets of Conakry at sunset

Conakry; Guinea

Conakry; Guinea

Guinea-Bissau: Pound away on a dried calabash, or gourd, which is used to make music in Guinea-Bissau

Kenya: Try purple tea sourced from Kenya, a country considered by connoisseurs to be among the best tea producers in the world

Lesotho: Travel to the Oxbow, one of the only places in Africa to go skiing

Liberia: Sing the lyrics to Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl: “You know that you came and you changed my world”

Libya: Enjoy bazeen, an unsweetened cake made with barley flour and usually served with tomatoes and eggs

Madagascar: Purchase a blue sapphire gem, extracted from the sapphire mines of Madagascar



Malawi: Find a nyau mask, still used by the Chewa people for initiations and important events

Mali: Plan a romantic dinner with a desert view in Timbuktu

Mauritania: Hand make soft bed linens from the ultra soft tie-dyed cotton fabric from free-trade cooperatives in Mauritania

Mauritius: Have your hotel arrange a white linen and china dinner for two on the beach at sunset



Morocco: Buy a token of love in one of Morocco’s many souks

Mozambique: Experiment with a marimba, a type of xylophone native to the country

Namibia: Express your inner child by sandboarding down the sand dunes

Niger: Wrap yourself and your lover with a traditional hand-woven wedding blanket in colorful patterns

Nigeria: Listen to the soulful rhythm of Zombie, one of Fela Kuti’s most acclaimed albums

Rwanda: Perform the Intore, the most famous, traditional Rwandan dance for your loved one in private

Sao Tome and Principe: Savor Corallo Chocolate, voted by some to be amongst the world’s best organic chocolate

Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe

Senegal: Give your valentine a sand painting, made from Senegalese volcanic sand, beach sand, and dune sand

Seychelles: Visit the white, sandy beaches on the island of Mahe, while indulging in the French-African creole culture

Sierra Leone: Drink Star Beer, produced by the national brewer, Sierra Leone Breweries

Somalia: Read Crossbones by Nuruddin Farrah, a novel about a family returning to Somalia 

South Africa: Uncork a rich, red Merlot from the Cape winelands, and give your lover a bouquet of protea flowers, the national flower of South Africa

Sudan: Read the poem The Trees Have Passed, by formerly imprisoned poet Mahjoub Sharif

South Sudan: Take a rafting expedition along the White Nile river and get a glimpse of wildlife along the untraveled section of the Nile

Swaziland: Light your bedroom with the gentle and romantic glow from Swazi candles

Tanzania: Indulge in a konyagi, an indigenous, gin-like beverage

Togo: Hang a zota painting (which is made with scorched wood and smoke) made by Paul Ahyi, the designer of Togo’s flag



Tunisia: Visit a hammam, a traditional Tunisian public steam bath

Uganda: Take a romantic safari in one of Uganda’s many safari parks

Zambia: Wrap your gift in a tonga basket, which are woven by Tonga women, renowned for their weaving abilities

Zimbabwe: Propose to your loved one at Victoria Falls with a platinum engagement ring, with platinum exported from Zimbabwe.

The Next Frontier: Technology companies have their eye on Africa. IBM leads the way!


MAMADOU NDIAYE grew up in Senegal. His parents were “not poor, but not rich”. He was fascinated by mathematics, which he studied at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and then taught for several years in Côte d’Ivoire, saving to pursue his dream of studying in America.

He went to New York, where he worked at Staples, an office-supplies chain, to finance his masters in statistics at Columbia University. A customer, impressed by Mr Ndiaye’s sales advice, suggested that the Senegalese apply for a job with his own employer, IBM. That was 15 years ago. Now Mr Ndiaye is back home, as manager of the office Big Blue opened in Dakar last May.

The office in Senegal is just one sign that IBM believes Africa will bring in billions. It is no newcomer: it sold its first gear there to South Africa’s railways in 1911 and a mainframe computer to Ghana’s central statistics bureau in 1964. Lately it has been paying special attention to the continent.

In July 2011 it won a ten-year, $1.5 billion contract to provide Bharti Airtel, an Indian mobile-phone company, with information-technology services in 16 African countries. Since mid-2011 it has set up shop in Angola, Mauritius and Tanzania, as well as Senegal. In all, it boasts a presence in more than 20 of Africa’s 54 countries. Last August it opened a research lab in Nairobi, one of only 12 in the world. And between February 5th and 7th Ginni Rometty, its chief executive, and all who report directly to her met dozens of African customers, actual and prospective, in Johannesburg and the Kenyan capital. It was, Mrs Rometty said, the first time the whole top brass had assembled outside New York since she became the boss just over a year ago.

Big Blue may be ahead, but it is not alone. Last month Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, spent a week in sub-Saharan cities. He enthused about Nairobi, which, he wrote, “has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader.” Orange, a French mobile operator, and Baidu, China’s answer to Google, recently introduced a jointly branded smartphone browser in Africa and the Middle East. Orange also sponsored this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, a football tournament, in South Africa. (Nigeria won it, beating Burkina Faso in the final on February 10th.)

This month Microsoft, which has offices in 14 African countries, unveiled a smartphone to be sold in several African markets. It is made by China’s Huawei and uses Microsoft’s new operating system.

Africa’s chief attraction is that it has been growing while richer regions have stalled . Its demographic prospects are promising, too. As America, Europe and China age, Africa can expect a bulge of workers in their productive prime. Though skills are in short supply, they are becoming more abundant. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the consulting firm’s research unit, in 2002 only 32% of Africans had secondary or tertiary education, but by 2020, 48% will have.

Technology companies say they are keen to serve smaller businesses too. Microsoft has announced a programme called SME4Afrika, which is intended to bring 1m small and medium-sized enterprises online. Mr de Sousa points out that technology can also draw informal businesses into the formal economy. The ability to use software, computing power and storage online “as a service”, paying only for what you need and only when you need it, may put the cost of information technology within the budget of many small African businesses. “The person who invented the cloud did it for Africa,” says Mr Ndiaye of IBM in Senegal.

Mr Kelly makes a bolder claim, linking Africa’s emergence to that of “big data”. IBM’s answer to how the world can cope with the rising torrent of exabytes is “cognitive computing”. Instead of being given detailed instructions, cognitive computers are fed masses of data and use statistical analysis to answer complex questions.

Africa has plenty of problems. Computing power can help Africans solve them.

19 Years After: Eagles, King Of Africa!


The Super Eagles of Nigeria ended a 19-year wait to regain the African Nations Cup after a stunning goal from home-based midfielder Sunday Mba gave them a deserved 1 0 win over the Stallions of  Burkina Faso in the cup final at Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg, South africa, yesterday.

It was only the third time that both countries have met in the 56-year competition with Nigeria beating the then Upper Volta 4-2 in 1978 and Burkina Faso snatching a stoppage time 1-1 draw in a Nelspruit group game last month.

This victory, watched by 90,000 fans in the stadium and millions of others across the world, makes Stephen Keshi the second African to win the trophy both as a player and a coach after the Egyptian legend, Mahmoud El Gohary.

Nigeria were forced into a late pre-match change when striker and four-goal hero and leading scorer, Emmanuel Emenike, was ruled out by a hamstring injury sustained in the semi-final match against Mali and experienced Ikechukwu Uche took his place.

Match winner Mba, 24, struck after 40 minutes when the ball bounced off a defender and into his path as he advanced on goal. Mba flicked it over defender Mohamed Koffi then reacted quickest to score with his other foot low into the corner of goalkeeper Daouda Diakite’s net in a move that showed sheer grit and determination. It was an opportunist goal by Mba and his second of the tournament, having struck a superb match winner in the 2-1 quarter-final win over pre-tournament title favourites, Ivory Coast. It was another sheer individual goal when he ran with the ball all the way from the centre circle, side-stepped Ivorian defenders and struck a shot that nestled at the top left corner of the post.

Mba’s goal in the final match gave the Super Eagles a deserved 1-0 half time lead that followed a predictable script with Nigeria dominating possession and creating scoring chances while the Burkinabe relied largely on counter-attacks.

The early second half exchanges mirrored the first period, with the Nigerian team pressing for a second goal. That left the opponents fielding a lone striker in Aristide Bance who was hardly given a yard of space to aim at goal. In fact, the Burkinabes had only one shot on target all night. But for poor finishing by Super Eagles strikers, the Stallions would have conceded more goals.

Diakite did well to push away a hard, low Ideye cross-cum-shot and Moses should have done better in a two-on-one situation that favoured the Eagles only to timidly surrender possession with the Burkinabe goal in sight.

Underdogs Burkina Faso, in the final for the first time, seemed over-awed by the occasion until the last 20 minutes when they threw everything forward in search of an equaliser. But Nigeria, with John Obi Mikel superb in midfield and Efe Ambrose, Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echiejile dominant at the back, always held the upper hand. Echiejile later copped an injury and was replaced by Juwon Oshinawa.

It was a third African title for Nigeria and her first since Keshi captained the country to victory in 1994.

In the post-match conference, Keshi said he was happy to bring joy to the homes of his 160 million countrymen. He also indicated that the team was not yet the finished article.

“Winning the tournament is mainly for my nation,” he said. “I am happy to make Nigerians happy once again. We are not there yet; we are still rebuilding the team.”

For team captain Joseph Yobo, winning the cup was a fitting end to his international career, declaring that this was his last appearance at the Nations Cup.

Among the rewards for Nigeria are a $1.5 million cash prize and a place at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, where they will face world and European champions Spain, Oceania champions Tahiti and South American champions Uruguay.