Dr. Lawretta Ogrih, is an entrepreneur with cluster of businesses within and outside Lagos and founder, Ivory Whetstones and Mentors Foundation, an outlet through which she gives back to the society. In this interview with Mary Ekah, she speaks on how she intends to use her show tagged, ‘The RED Moment’ billed for April 30, to accomplish her mission of alleviating the plight of the Nigerian woman
Why did you tag your upcoming event, ‘The RED Moment’?
RED stands for Restore Everything Damaged, so it is a time for the launch of the RED moment. It is a season of sacrifice. We are looking at RED as sacrificial, It is sacrificial when someone pays N15, 000 to come and watch a concert. The event is an offshoot our foundation, the Ivory Whetstones and Mentors Foundation. It is one of our babies, a platform for continuing our outreach for women but this time we are using comedy. We would hold a comedy show, music and dance where we would be showcasing some top comedians in Nigeria on the workers Day weekend. So we are trying to get workers, the business people and the public generally to support our course by getting our tickets. And like our slogan says, ‘One ticket, double impacts’. We are looking at people coming to relax on a Workers’ Day weekend and lightening their moods on that day and at the same time, also impacting on a struggling or troubled woman out there. So the proceed from this concert is going to be used to empower women out there like we have done in the past. Those with the VIP and VVIP tickets would get extra treats by us but those with regular would just come and be entertained.
Why do you choose a comedy show and not any other thing?
We chose comedy because when you look at the economy situation, what is happening in the society and the nation at large, you would find that people are really worked up, stressed up and all that. And so we chose the Worker’s Day weekend so that workers can really be in a relaxed mood. With the situations around us, many people really need to laugh because laughter is a good cure for most of the problems we are having today, some people need to laugh more like the Bible says, ’A merry heart does good is like medicine …’ So that is the more reason we chose comedy, and of course there would be a lot of music in the house. Before now, we have done lots of programmes. This foundation reaches out to beyond women; we reach out to children, giving them scholarships and so on. We reach out to the elderly as well and so now we want to go into entertainment. This is our first time of using comedy to raise funds. Another way of reaching out to the public is that we have had donors offering free return tickets for lucky participants who have any of the tickets for the show either the regular of N500 or the VIP ticket of N15,000 or even the VIPP ticket of N30,000. They will stand the chance of winning first place prize return ticket to Dubai, a second prize for an all-expense-paid night at the Leawood Hotel, Lekki while the third prize will be a Forever Living products wellness hamper. Besides these, there is going to be lots of dance in the house because a renowned DJ will be in the house. Over 50 women would be empowered with proceeds from the event. They would be empowered with life skills, business skills and things that can help them carter to their children so that they would not constitute a menace to the society in future.
What kind of women are your target?
We are looking at struggling single mothers, widows, and the likes and then we intend to get them through churches, we don’t just pick women from the streets. After which they would be screened to actually ascertain that they really have the needs for what they would be given. We train them on skills for a week, mentor them, empower them and follow up on them, ensuring that they are doing well and making progress.
You also publish the SEE magazine, is that an offshoot of your foundation too?
The Foundation publishes ‘SEE Magazine’, so we can say it is an expression of the foundation. It is an inspirational magazine full of turning point stories. And we use the magazines for ministering because when they are published people sow into them and then they are distributed feely to people who are feeling helpless. This is our sixth year of publishing the magazines and it has been impacting on lives tremendously over the years. It started by being published every other month, but as time went on we started having most of our stories online and because we got a lot of testimonies online, we started going online the more. Now we don’t publish as often as we used to, we tend to tie the publication to events and so we would have one out during ‘The RED Moment’ concert scheduled for Sunday, April, 30 at the SEE Centre, Lekki, Lagos at 5pm.
What motivated you to venture into charity?
I would always say that if you are purpose driven, you would always do things to impact the society; for all of what I do, there is a reason. There is something that I have seen that drives me to do them. For me, I give naturally when the need arises. It started right from my childhood days because I lived with parents whom I saw give and I enjoyed seeing them give. And over the years I have learned spiritually that giving is a command, as it is stated in the Bible that ‘Give and it shall be given to you…’ So basically, my upbringing, my teachings and what I have learned from being a child of God have motivated me. And based on my career, I have developed a passion for giving. I have been in contact with a lot of youths and other people and I have been the head of my family’s higher education affiliation, so I have seen the need to help. And I have gone further to pursue a Ph.D. in Corporate Social Responsibilities, so it is for me to lean a helping hand. And the reward, I can’t begin to mention that. I’m not compelled to do it but I just l love doing it. So as the needs arise, I take charge of them with my personal finance most time, so I don’t depend on aids to carry out these activities. This is something that I work hard to execute because I have a number of businesses that I run.
What would you say have been the challenges of doing this?
I can’t begin to mention the challenges that we have gone through but like I said earlier, I am not compelled to do it. So one of the challenges could have been finance but I have businesses that I do and so as the challenges arise, I take them upon myself to ensure that I overcome them one after the other. I do not depend on people for aids to carry out by duty at the Foundation. The foundation has been over a decade but that is not the only thing I do. Alongside the foundation, I have always had a business going on. I run an event center, a school that is affiliated to reputable universities in Nigeria and then a hotel and many other things. So in the curse of my day to day earning, I try to give back to the society in one way or the other. In that way we restore hope to the struggling and trouble women.
Can you tell me about your businesses?
One of the businesses I do is the SEE Event Centre that carters for events, trainings and conferences with ample parking space. And recently we converted our higher education affiliation business facility to the Leawood Hotel, located on Lekki-Epe Expressway, Oko-Ado, Lekki with over 40 rooms. We are also into Real Estate business outside of Lagos and then I run a school called, Ivory House School, a nursery and primary which, is being reengineered right now. I love creating business. I can have like a hundred expressions – a hundred businesses. Right now I’m into wellness, entertainment, hospitality, publishing and so on. All the businesses come under the SEE and Ivory family. Again, I love to bring people together may be for empowerment, skill acquisition, relationship purpose or educational purpose and so and that is where the need to own an event centre arose. I convene programmes a lot beyond trying to reach out to help women and it was one of my desires to have a place where we can convene women regularly for our various programmes and that was how the SEE Event Centre to being. And then one of the expressions of the foundation is the SEE Inspirational Magazine and this magazine touches all aspects of live. And each time we have an edition of the magazine we hold a talk show, not on air but in a gathering where we address issues in real life and as people participate they are touched in various ways. I am also into praise ministry and intercession and the ministry is part of the SEE family network.
You are multi-tasked, how do you cope with all the things you do?
I am energetic in nature and I love to delegate as well. I have part time staff as well as full time staff, there are different people to give assignments to and so I apportion duties to them appropriately. I trust people to delegate to them and much more, I have it at the bottom of my mind that I have to live a balance life, give to my family and the society, so that no one is suffering, especially my home front.
What is your vision for your organisation?
I want to do massive things because I have so much energy and don’t want it to be wasted. I want to do better activities that are more impacting.
Can you tell us about the man behind this energetic and successful woman?
He is a lovely man. My hero, Mr. Sam Ogrih is a nice man. He is a businessman. He is equally up there that sometimes I have to run after him and say, ‘just hold on a bit’. He has his goals in business and he is a go-getter.
How do you relax?
I love to work out and I love my home, I love my family, so any opportunity I have, I spend it quietly at home with my family.