Emmanuel Omenogu: It was not what I wished for, but God had a plan for me as I have never really practiced anything concerning electrical engineering. The first job I got was in a pharmaceutical company and from there I took a liking to medicine and pursued my passion in that field. In a country like ours, where getting qualitative medical attention for the common man is a nightmare, it pushed me into learning to depend on natural resources for health benefits. Herbal medicine is more affordable than orthodox medicine, and is more reliable, too.
WM: How did you start?
Emmanuel: It was not easy as I had many setbacks. But I was determined not to allow challenges stop me from my goal. I stumbled on the opportunity when it came; I was encouraged by the concept. At that time, it was difficult getting a decent job and instead of sitting and wasting my time and energy, I decided to go into something that would be beneficial to the community. Since I had a stint with medicine, I went on to study herbal medicine and obtained the necessary qualification. It is important to note that not every herbal medicine practitioner is trained and that is why we have some drugs that claim to be genuine herbal drugs having one or two side-effects.
Though with challenges that are normal in any business, we have been able to overcome and make a name for ourselves through this business and being able to provide jobs for people in one way or the other. With hard work and dedication we have been able to market our product in many countries all over the world.
WM: How much did you start with?
Emmanuel: I started with N6,000. You see, this business is one that you do not really need to have a huge capital base to start with. The basic thing in it is to have training and expertise because all we need is around us for free.
WM: What are the challenges you have faced so far?
Emmanuel: The one with NAFDAC. We have difficulties in registering product. In other countries like in Angola, Uganda, Philippines where we introduced our product, the hurdles of registering were not as tedious as what we have in Nigeria. But in Nigeria before we register any product a million naira must be paid for a product. The fourteen products we registered is about fourteen million. NAFDAC is making it a difficult task for people to really benefit from it. We are also responsible for the farming and manufacturing of this product. We have a big farm in Malaysia and Uganda.
In Uganda, they embrace natural products well. If only the Nigeria Government will give way to herbal medicine. For example the Chinese rarely depend on orthodox medicine. They are 90% herbal in all they do.
WM: With the present situation of things in the country, where do you see herbal medicine in the future?
Emmanuel: Before now, it was difficult to convince some certain sets of people on herbal medicine but today they have embraced it. The effect in the nearest future will be great, if only people will be convinced that it is for the best. God has given us everything in this world for our own benefit. The government also has a great role to play in making sure that the herbal medicine practice is taken to greater heights. There are many benefits to derive from this venture both locally and internationally.
WM: Some people are of the opinion that herbal medications are generally fake. How have you been able to overcome that hurdle?
Emmanuel: In a developed country like America, herbal medication is well-accepted. They spend billions of dollars on herbal medicine. They have consultants to attend to customers in order to recommend them in some shops. But here in Nigeria people are not well-informed on the benefits of herbal medication. But of recent, people have started seeing the benefits and have started embracing it.
WM: Is it possible to have these herbal medicines on shelves easily, without concerns of expiry?
Emmanuel: They’re made and manufactured in a proper way. There is no other way to preserve it other than for it to be kept in a cool place. Each of the products has it own life span. Is there a way you can squeeze an orange and have it on the shelf without it getting spoilt? Herbal medicine is all-natural, so it will definitely get spoilt if it is not well-preserved.
WM: What advice would you give the public?
Emmanuel: The public should embrace herbal medication because it will add to their well-being. Herbal medication is like the food we take in. It does not have complications. It provides the body with required nutrients that keep it active and agile. Most people who have tasted it keep to it. I also want to advise people that are not gainfully employed that you must not wait for white collar jobs. We are looking for people who can go into this career and explore the many benefits of herbal products.