The word “Emzor” needs no introduction in Nigeria. Emzor paracetamol is one of the very popular drugs in Nigeria such that when you turn into any pharmacy, you will surely find one. Often thought to be a foreign company, this drug is being produced here in Nigeria by Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, owned by a very astute entrepreneur.
Beyond Nigeria, Emzor currently has a heavy presence in West Africa with offices in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali, and even in Asia (India).
At the time of writing this article, Emzor pharmaceutical manufactures over 140 high-quality pharmaceutical products and medical consumables including analgesics, vitamins, antimalarials, antitussives, antibiotics, anthelmintics, antihistamine, antacid, and cardio-protective drugs. The company currently operates 3 factories, 2 warehouses. Its factories can be found at Ajao, Richfield, and Sagamu, while its warehouses at Ene and Ajao.
The brain behind this powerful pharmaceutical company is Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli, industrialist and a Pharmacist. She is adjudged the richest woman in the South-East., in terms of her business worth.
Who is Stella Okoli?
Stella was born in Kano State into the family of Felix Ebelechukwu and Margaret Modebelu, who are Igbos from Nnewi in Anambra State. She had her primary education in 1954 at All Saint Primary School, Onitsha, before continuing to finish her secondary school in 1964 at Ogidi Girls Secondary School, Ogidi, all in Anambra State. She furthered her education by enrolling at the University of Bradford where she studied Pharmacy, and graduated in 1969. In 1971, Stella would later bag her an M.Sc from the University of London, Chelsea in Biopharmaceutical.
Before establishing Emzor Pharmaceuticals, Stella Okoli worked in several pharmaceutical firms. She started as a Ward/Clinical Pharmacist at Middlesex Hospital in London. Sometime later, she worked briefly as a Pharmacist at Boots Uk, formerly known as Boots the Chemist Limited. She returned to Nigeria and worked for a while at Massey Children Hospital, Lagos before joining a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, Park Davies Nigeria Limited (now Pharma-Deko Plc). At Pharma-Deko Plc, Stella worked as a Medical Representative and later as a Sales Manager. This was where her thirst for entrepreneurship was born
The Rise of Emzor
Stella started a little retail shop known as Emzor Chemists Limited in Shomolu, Lagos, before expanding to become Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd in January 1977.
In 1981, Okoli began importing and selling ethical and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs before her company, Emzor Pharmaceuticals got incorporated as a manufacturing company three years later.
Emzor Paracetamol was one of the first products from the brand that was set to take over the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria. In 1984, Emzor Chemists was incorporated as Emzor Pharmaceutical to manufacture high-quality drugs locally.
By 1987, Emzor had four products in its stable and today, the company has churned out medicines that cater for a myriad of health problems and ailments including anti-malaria, analgesics, antibiotics, haematinics, vitamins etc. The factory at Isolo, Lagos was commissioned in July 1993.
She is married to late Barrister Nnaemeka Christopher Ozuomba Okoli who died in 2014 as a result of cancer of the lungs. They had three Children Emeka, Uzoma and Late Chike Okoli.
Following the unfortunate death of her son in 2005, the next year, Okoli established the ‘Chike Okoli Foundation’ in his memory to fight poverty and disease by raising awareness on cardiovascular diseases. She also started the ‘Chike Okoli Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies’ which has trained thousands of Nigerian tertiary students on ICT.
Recognition and Awards
In recognition of her achievements and contributions to the health sector in Nigeria, Stella Okoli was bestowed with the Member of the Order of the Niger award.
Stella is the recipient of several awards. In 2012, she was honoured at the 17th ThisDay Annual Awards. Other awards include the International Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award, CePAT Honors Lifetime Achievement Award 2014, Ernst and Young Lifetime Achievement Award 2016, and the Institute of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award 2016. She is also a recipient of the ECOWAS International Gold Award.
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