The Profile of Dr Stella Okoli, the Founder of Emzor

Dr Stella Okoli, OON, is the founder of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, one of the leading indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers in Nigeria.

She is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the managing director of the company. Emzor currently has other subsidiary companies such as Emzor HESCO – a hospital medical and diagnostic equipment supplier, Zolon Healthcare Limited – a speciality medical products company, and Frontwave Limited – a medical logistics and supply chain company.

Biography of Dr Stella Okoli

Dr Stella Okoli was born in 1944 in Northern Nigerian state, Kano State. Her parents Felix Ebelechukwu and Margaret Modebelu are from Nnewi in Anambra state, Eastern Nigeria.

She started her primary education in All Saint Primary School, Onitsha in 1954 before completing her secondary education at Ogidi Girl’s Secondary School, Ogidi, in 1964.

She moved to England for her pharmacy degree, Bpharm (Hons) graduating from the University of Bradford in 1969. She got her M.Sc. certificate in Biopharmaceuticals from the University of London, Chelsea College, in 1971.

From 1997 to 1999, Dr Stella Okoli attended the Executive Management programs of the Harvard Business School, Boston, United States, for owner-managers.

Also, she attended the Chief Executive Management program of the Lagos Business School.

Founding Emzor Pharmaceutical

Dr Stella Okoli started her working career in the UK with healthcare provider such as Middlesex Hospital, London, Boots the Chemists Limited and Nigerian pharmaceutical company – Pharma Deko

She started Emzor in January 1977 as a small retail pharmacy shop in Shomolu, Lagos State. The initial name was “Emzor Chemists Limited”. The retail shop will transition to Emzor Pharmaceutical and was incorporated in 1984. The company moved from retail to wholesale and importation of pharmaceutical products.

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Emzor Pharmaceutical started manufacturing of pharmaceutical products in 1986, with the introduction of its flagship product, Emzor Paracetamol. Emzor Paracetamol brand controls up to 25% of the analgesic market in Nigeria.

The company has witnessed tremendous growth over the years to become one of the biggest pharma companies in Nigeria with over 140 different products ranging from antimalarial to vitamins, haematinics, cardioprotective drugs, antibiotics.

Emzor currently has a heavy presence in West Africa with offices in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali, and even in Asia (India)


Dr Stella Okoli is a member of many professional bodies, both in the pharmaceutical industry and the entrepreneurship sector. They include:

  • Member, Economic Summit of Nigeria and the Health Matters Advisory Board of Nigeria,
  • Vice President of Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria
  • Vice President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
  • Former Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group (PMG) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
  • Non-Executive Director, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (2010 to 2014)

Personal Life

Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli was married to Barrister Nnaemeka Christopher Ozuomba Okoli, who died in 2014 due to lung cancer. She had three children, Emeka, Uzoma, and Chike, but Chike Okoli died five days after his 25th birthday due to an undetected coronary artery disease.

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After the death of the son in 2005, Stella Okoli started the Chike Okoli Foundation in 2006, a non-profit organisation aimed at fighting poverty, diseases, and awareness about cardiovascular diseases. At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, she runs the Chike Okoli Centre for Entrepreneurial studies. They have raised over 1600 entrepreneurs.

Awards and Certifications

  • International Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award
  • CePATHonors Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014
  • Ernst and Young Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016
  • Institute of Directors Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016
  • Member of the Order of the Niger award (MON)
  • Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON)
  • International Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award
  • ThisDay Annual Awards, 2012.
  • Silverbird Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018.
  • Trinity House of Nigeria awarded as the Industrialist of the Year in Honour Nigeria 2017
  • ECOWAS International Gold Award.
  • Alumni of:
    • Lagos Business School,
    • Harvard Business School,
    • Boston and I.E.S.E Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

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