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How Stella Okoli Built Emzor, Nigeria’s Biggest Indigenous Pharmaceutical Company

Nigeria pharmacist and Founder of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited Dr. Stella Okoli has remarkably grown to have major footprints across Africa.

Born in Kano, Northern Nigeria to the family of Chief Felix Ebelechukwu and Princess Margaret Modebelu of Nnewi, In Anambra State, she attended All Saint Primary School, Onitsha from 1954-1959 and Ogidi Girls Secondary School from 1959-1964, Attended Federal Science School Lagos from 1964 till 1966.

She later proceeded to the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom from where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. This academic achievement was followed by an MSC in Biopharmaceutics which she obtained from the University of London, Chelsea College in 1971.

Dr. Stella Okoli’s post-graduation work experience is quite impressive. Her experience in the Pharmaceutical field is well consolidated. She initially worked in Middlesex Hospital as a Ward/ Clinical Pharmacist, followed in succession by her brief stint as a Pharmacist at Boots Chemist London. Her return home to Nigeria, saw her work at Massey Children Hospital Lagos before she joined a pharmaceutical manufacturing company Park Davies Nigeria Ltd (now Pharma-Deko Plc) as a Medical Representative and later as a Sales Manager.

Beyond her quest for knowledge, she has consistently served in finding practical solutions to the perennial problems in our environment.

According to Okoli, the idea to manufacture drugs locally was predicated upon the need to develop local capabilities and competencies, create jobs and provide high-quality pharmaceutical products and services to Nigerians at prices that are not only affordable but represent value.
From retail to importation and wholesales of pharmaceutical products, the company commenced pilot manufacturing in 1986.

Emzor has since continuously expanded its product range, growing in leaps and bounds. It now produces over 60 time-tested products, which include analgesics, vitamins, haematinics, anti-malarials, anti-tussives, antibiotics, anti-helmintics, anti-histamine, antacid, and cardio-protective drugs in Nigeria and in the West Coast of Africa. Emzor Pharmaceuticals has established offices in India, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Mali.

Where others saw pharmaceutical manufacturing as a difficult and unpredictable business, Stella saw possibility; she saw an opportunity: the chance to give other young men and women skills to improve their lives. Stella Okoli is indeed a woman of distinction and lifetime achiever.

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