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.