The Executive Director of Gmyt Fashion Academy, Princess Kelechin Oghene, who doubled up as Founder of Gmyt Foundation and the CEO of Gmyt African Humanitarian Awards is undoubtedly one of the success stories of entrepreneurship in Nigeria after starting small, grown and now helping many women to eradicate poverty by training and empowerment. The entrepreneur speaks with CHINYERE OKOROAFOR on her vision, experience and humanitarian efforts of her organisation.
Few years Gmyt Fashion Academy kicked off you started Gmyt Foudation, what lead to it?
I have always had the passion to create millions of entrepreneurs who will become great ambassadors and tomorrow’s leaders.
Like I have always preached and done over the years and so you will agree with me from the ongoing pandemic that we need it now more than ever.
What are the challenges and journey of being an entrepreneur?
The life of an entrepreneur is a journey on a contorted road dotted with bumps and craters. At certain points, the bumps could seem as high as mountains and the pits as deep as lots, making this journey appear quite despondent.
The vision evolved 15 years ago when I started building myself to become what I have always admired, a successful entrepreneur who will raise millions like me in this nation and in the Diaspora. This optimistic philosophy that I have adopted had been much to me in my own journey towards achieving my goal. It was not at all easy.
I am also a big reader with a strong appetite for learning which prompted me to attend several workshops, training and I have bagged several executive degrees and qualifications from notable institutions which have made me more structured in my business dealings .Today, I am a leader with purpose. Every journey begins with one small step. I took that step, 15 years ago when I opened a boutique and later ventured into bespoke; this metamorphosed to the Gmyt Fashion Academy of today. The one positive trait that had proved to be highly efficient in boosting me out of hitches and deadly pits is ambition. I know that too much of it could corrupt a person, but so far it had only empowered my spirit with the needed optimism.
What areas of life issues has your passion led you to solve?
I’m dedicated to my commitment of eradicating poverty through training and empowering women with the necessary skill-set to thrive and become financially independent thereby reducing what women go through like abuse, rape and other vices and because of that, I founded the Gmyt Foundation, a non-governmental organization set aside to help women and youths.
On the grounds that I have seen how women and youths are suffering and so using my position, I took it upon myself, together with my team to reduce the suffering in our society by conducting free entrepreneurial sessions, seminars, workshops and scholarships for women and youths worth over 200 million naira.
By the grace of God, we have empowered over 300 women and youths with industrial sewing machines through my proclaimed Initiative and we have trained over 500 women and youths that aspire to be Fashion designers.
My life, passion, vision, dream and mission is to contribute more to societal growth, that was why I organized the SME’s Scheme to support and encourage women and youths with brilliant ideas and so far, we have given millions of naira to support this movement. I do this because I am a philanthropist and it is in my nature to give and I want to encourage everyone to use their positions to help because I believe it starts with individuals.
As Albert Pike said and I quote “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
You also started Gmyt African Humanitarian Awards, what is purpose behind it?
My avid love for fashion coupled with my passion for humanity propelled me to create the GMYT African Humanitarian Awards and Fashion show. The award ceremony recognises and celebrates philanthropist like myself.
It is important we recognize and appreciate their efforts, as you can see it’s not an easy task. It is also a platform that celebrates The Best Fashion Designers that have graduated from our prestigious school (Gmyt Fashion Academy students/Alumni) and it might interest you to know that we have done the 6th edition of this prestigious award over the years and counting.
The reason for all these initiatives is that the economic system in Nigeria is not only relentlessly harsh; it is sadistically cruel. Society has shown that your school degrees does not guarantee you job opportunities.
Your vision and aspirations as a young boy or girl would be despicably downtrodden. In addition, Nigeria possesses an enormous population and too few job opportunities to match, thus eliciting nervous breakdowns among many, some were even impelled to commit suicide due to the immense pressure.
I on the other hand, I am indescribably glad to have helped to reduce this through empowering youths who can become ambassadors and future leaders.
Today, as I celebrate a new year, looking back at what I have been able to achieve, I feel proud and still have the urge to do more and God’s willing, I will get there. In a bid to celebrate my birthday, we are giving out 20 scholarships because now more than ever, we need to adopt the habit of giving back to the society so that the world we live in can become a better place.
What is your word for young persons who wishes to join the fashion industry?
We look forward to meeting our amazing aspiring fashion designers that would take advantage of this opportunity into becoming students of GMYT Fashion Academy. This is important the opportunity of coming into their world as we can’t wait to impact our knowledge so they can achieve their dreams and aspiration going forward.