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Stella Okoli: The woman who built a pharmaceutical giant from a small store

Stella Okoli: The lady who constructed a pharmaceutical big from a small retailer

The privileged place of founders and Chief Executives has virtually grow to be a reserve of diploma and MBA holders, however just a few like Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya have confirmed with their tales that grit, hardwork and initiative could make a person profitable in enterprise, even with out government levels.

Razaq Akanni Okoya was born on January 12, 1940, to Tiamiyu Ayinde and Alhaja Idiatu Okoya. Regardless of being born in Lagos state, he didn’t begin education on time.

Razaq attended Ansar-Ud-Deen Main College, Oke-Popo, Lagos, and this ended up offering his solely formal training.

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Lawyer, trainer or businessman?

With a tailor for a father, Razaq spent most of his after-school hours studying the commerce. He would run errands for his father, serving to him get provides and mending some garments. They made on-demand clothes, bicycle seat covers and different clothes equipment on the market.

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With this apprentice way of life, Razaq grew to become an professional tailor earlier than he completed his main training. Whereas many thought that Razaq selected to grow to be a tailor as a result of his father was one, the industrialist defined later in an interview that the selection got here after a lot thought and concerns.

He had thought-about changing into a lawyer or a trainer, but additionally needed to grow to be rich. He additionally noticed the society round him and noticed that among the wealthiest folks have been businessmen.

“Whereas at school, I might see my trainer in worn out and infrequently shabby garments and on the identical time, I might see well-dressed businessmen at Dosunmu Avenue, the then coronary heart of enterprise in Lagos. My father was an excellent tailor with a model new automotive, a Chrysler for that matter, 5 homes and loads of apprentices, which could possibly be an inspiration for a younger man,” he recalled.

Following his father out on visits to shoppers in Ikoyi, he had additionally met the likes of Chief Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, the daddy of Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and different rich businessmen shoppers.

He determined then that he needed to grow to be a businessman. He was already 17 years previous earlier than he completed main faculty, and didn’t wish to waste any extra time on formal training.

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A business-teenager

At 17, an age the place he might hardly be referred to as a enterprise ‘man’, Razaq had saved up £20 (twenty kilos) from mending shirts and trousers in his father’s store and he determined to begin a small scale buying and selling enterprise.

Only a few merchants had entry to producers right now and they also needed to undergo middlemen, however Razaq stumbled upon a product catalogue of a producer based mostly in Japan that produced tailoring supplies equivalent to buttons, ribbons, zip fasteners, and so on and determined to put a direct order. When he totaled the figures, he found that it will value him £70, that means that he wanted an extra £50.

Together with his father’s permission, his mom loaned him the quantity interest-free and he positioned the order. The merchandise barely landed earlier than they have been offered out, because it didn’t take merchants a lot time to grasp that they have been of higher high quality than those already available in the market.

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The fast turnovers gave Razaq the financing he wanted to broaden the enterprise and enhance the orders. With numerous earnings coming in, he accomplished his first home at Surulere by the age of 19, and by the age of 21, he had three extra homes in the identical location.

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Turning his spouse’s fancy right into a enterprise

Being comparatively comfy, Razaq obtained married fairly early. His first spouse, Kuburat Okoya, like many different girls, had an uncommon fancy for jewelry and spent fairly some huge cash buying them.

Presently, Razaq was contemplating going into manufacturing and reasoned that if he might produce jewelry with the uncooked supplies obtainable in Nigeria, there was a prepared marketplace for it for the reason that demand was excessive.


On considered one of his journeys in another country, he imported some jewelry manufacturing machines together with some consultants and began manufacturing the jewelry at ridiculously low prices. This marked the beginning of the Jewelry Manufacturing Arm of Eleganza Group.

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Expectedly, the merchandise all offered out and the enterprise broke even very early. The younger firm virtually discovered itself choked with demand for its merchandise and this set it firmly on its ft.

Razaq then determined to enterprise into shoe manufacturing, however began out by paying factories in Italy to supply the sneakers in order that he might import the completed merchandise. This moved on easily for some time till the corporate defaulted on considered one of his orders, utilizing his advance fee to settle different payments as a substitute.

Livid over this disappointment, he imported the mandatory machines and introduced in consultants to coach his staff; thus bringing concerning the Shoe Manufacturing arm of the group.


The company has grown over time and now employs hundreds of Nigerians throughout its factories the place it manufactures coolers, chairs, soaps, weave-on for women, cutlery, electrical followers, plastics, and so on.

The Eleganza group is now headed by his youngest spouse, Mrs Shade Okoya as Managing Director/Chief Govt Officer whereas he’s Chairman of the group.

RAO Property Funding Firm

One in every of Razaq’s motivation for going into enterprise was that he desired to be a landlord. He recalled in an interview that he observed that the majority enterprise folks on the time have been landlords, however “in the event you discovered a person carrying a go well with and tie dwelling in these areas in these days, he will need to have rented an house there.”

This want all the time remained with him, and as quickly as he had enough cash to, he delved into actual property. By age 34, he acquired 4 hectares of land on Ikoyi Crescent, and by 40 years, he had two high-rise buildings standing in his title.

Years after, he arrange the RAO Property Funding Firm because the automobile to drive his actual property goals. A lover of excellent homes, Razaq noticed this as a possibility to offer good housing for folks.

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The corporate constructed and maintains the Oluwa Ni Shola Property at Lekki-Ajah Expressway, which is usually described as an expatriates’ property due to the excessive variety of expatriates dwelling there.

The luxurious property is properly outfitted with uninterrupted energy and water provide, marble flooring, central air-conditioning, sauna, lush gardens, billiard room, tennis courtroom, swimming swimming pools, costly sculptures and others, sometimes mirroring the kind of life Okoya all the time dreamt of.

By this firm, he has additionally invested in a number of properties round Lagos.


Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya has earned and acquired a number of awards and recognitions over time. He acquired the Lifetime Achievement Award of Enterprise Entrepreneur by ThisDay Newspapers, an award which was offered to Okoya by Invoice Clinton, Former President of United States of America.

He was awarded the Golden Award for High quality by the Nigerian Institute of Requirements, and likewise holds the Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) honour from the Federal Authorities of Nigeria.

He’s stated to be considered one of Nigeria’s richest, although his internet price can’t be confirmed since his corporations will not be listed on the Inventory Trade.

In a latest interview, he was requested his ideas on formal training, having achieved a lot with solely his main training and he stated, “I’ve nothing towards training. However at instances, training provides folks false confidence. It makes folks calm down, trusting within the energy of their certificates moderately than in working arduous. I knew I needed to be wealthy, and I knew I needed to work very arduous”

In January 2020, the industrialist turned 80 amid a lot fanfare. He had this to say; “My prayer is to take pleasure in good well being, lengthy life and go away the legacy of my business behind as I need Eleganza to survive me and proceed with my philosophy of philanthropy.”



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