Ndidiamaka “Didi” Okpareke was joined by dozens of family, friends and community leaders to celebrate breaking ground on the new location of Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy July 10.

The large group braved the heat not only to celebrate the new building going up at 1713 Wellspring Ave. SE but also to congratulate Okpareke.

A first-generation Nigerian-American, Okpareke opened Olive Tree Compounding in 2017.  It is the state of New Mexico’s only African American-owned compounding pharmacy and is unique in offering individualized treatments through medications specifically engineered to suit each patient’s customized needs.

Okpareke began her professional career after graduating with honors from the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, class of 2008. With an extensive background in hospital and retail pharmacy, firm knowledge in pediatric, neonatal, general surgery, and geriatric pharmaceutical care, she embarked on her dream to become an entrepreneur in January 2016. Endowed with the mission to provide customized pharmaceutical care, one client at a time, Okpareke is now able to create the pharmacy of her dreams.

Okpareke said she has overcome many hurdles to become a respected authority in the medical field of pharmacy. Access to capital was one of the first challenges; after a divorce, a potential lender even advised her to give up her dream and declare bankruptcy. Okpareke says she is still occasionally confronted with a customer who will ask for the “real doctor” even when she has introduced herself as “Dr. Ndidiamaka Okpareke.”

“Every time I fell, I ended up getting back up, and was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m supposed to do this.’ But it tested every single drop of patience within me,” Okpareke said while flanked by her three sons. “So now I can say I’m truly fulfilled as a woman and who I’m supposed to be. I thank you to this community for welcoming me because not many business owners look like me across this nation. Not many business owners can start from where I started from and get to where I’ve gone. This is not just about me, it’s not just about Olive Tree but this is a legacy. This is a generational impact that is taking place from today forward. This is for every other single mom that was left with nothing, and now I have three kings.”

It’s been an exciting year for Okpareke.

Ribbon cutting and ceremony during the unveiling of the “Beyond the Living Wall” mural at WESST Enterprise Center in March. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)

In March, Okapreke witnessed the unveiling of a the new mural inside the WESST Enterprise Center, which features portraits of her and two other businesswomen in the state: Carmen Bolivar and Alyssa Begay.

Tthe two-story, 408-square-foot “Beyond the Living Wall” mural was made by New Mexico artist Jodie Herrera. It stretches from ground to clearing in the building’s atrium.

WESST is a nonprofit that supports budding entrepreneurs in New Mexico. Since 1989, it has offered a system that includes a variety of consulting and training services to help women, people of color, and low-wealth and underserved individuals create and sustain a multitude of businesses. Okpareke has been working with WESST since 2016, when she needed support with her marketing plan and completing financial statements.

Since then she has opened Olive Tree and watched it thrive and grow into a new location.

“What we have here is a trailblazing entrepreneur,” Mayor Gregg Hull said. “Six years ago, we stood out there in front of her building, and she became the first compounding pharmacy on the West Side. It’s pretty incredible the way that she has taken that small little business. We’re really celebrating all the employees, all the dedication to community, all the vision, all the drive that it takes to make a small business become great, and truly yours has become great. Your vision is being realized here.”