Nigeria’s Couture Queen Lifting Women out of Poverty

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Kelechi Oghene

A bundle of brain, illustrious and beauteous, she embodies success, selflessness and superiority, towering above her peers. Always dressed to the nines, unique and stately, she possesses the humaneness that’s a rarity in the modern world. Princess Kelechi Oghene, Executive Director of GMYT Fashion Academy has mastered the art of philanthropy. She discusses with Funke Olaode why she sets her eyes on supporting humanity.

Over the last 15 years, Princess Kelechi Oghene, the Executive Director of GMYT Fashion Academy, an ex-model-turned-entrepreneur has continued to contribute to societal growth through her foundation which has impacted over 300 beneficiaries. In what has become a yearly obligation, the fashion mogul showered multimillion-naira scholarships on 20 beneficiaries.

Armed with this philosophy, Oghene, whose fashion academy is an outlet renowned for creating breath-taking couture and raising a new crop of entrepreneurs, has continued to excel in philanthropy.

She’s the founder of the GMYT Foundation and the CEO of GMYT African Humanitarian Awards. Her vision is to create millions of entrepreneurs who will become great ambassadors and tomorrow’s leaders.

Through her various philanthropic gesture created to empower women, many have been lifted out of poverty and made financially independent, able to become a pillar of support to their families thereby fulfilling the saying that ‘if you empower a woman you are empowering a nation.

Oghene’s commitment to humanity is not one-off as her not-for-profit organization, GMYT Foundation, committed to training and retooling women through fashion, so far, has assisted over 300 women, numerous youths on scholarship in couture.

Born July 19, Oghene rather than throw a big party, as always, this year decided to channel her resources to a cause dear to her heart. She gave out 20 scholarships thereby fulfilling her vision of reducing poverty, providing women with necessary skillsets.

“This is my birthday gift,” said the beautiful mother of two. “I am not doing all this to play to the gallery because now more than ever, we all need to adopt the habit of giving back to society so that the world we live in can become a better place.”

She adds, “We look forward to meeting our amazing aspiring fashion designers that would take advantage of this opportunity into becoming students of GMYT Fashion Academy, bringing us into their world as we can’t wait to impact our knowledge so they can achieve their dreams and aspiration going forward.

“As I have always preached and done over the years, from the ongoing pandemic that we all need it now more than ever.”

Speaking on the motivation behind the scholarship which she started over a decade ago, Oghene admitted that the life of an entrepreneur is a journey on a contorted road with bumps and craters.
At certain points, the bumps could seem as high as mountains, making this journey appear quite despondent.

“15 years ago, this vision evolved 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 helped in the journey towards achieving my goal. It was not at all easy,” Oghene says.

As an avid reader and a great hands-on learner, she has attended several workshops, training and even obtaining various executive degrees and qualifications from notable institutions. She is a leader with a purpose.

Every journey begins with a step. Oghene took that step, 15 years ago when she opened a boutique and later ventured into bespoke couture which metamorphosed into GMYT Fashion Academy.
She notes, “One positive trait that’s 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 has only empowered my spirit with much-needed optimism.

“My greatest ambition is keeping with my commitment to eradicating poverty by training and empowering women with the necessary skillsets 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.”

There’s more.
She explains: “I took it upon myself along 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 N200m.

“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.”

That path, the path of philanthropy, is her life built on passion, vision, and mission to support humanity in the most practical way.

“We’ve given millions of naira to support this movement. I do this because I am a philanthropist. It is in my nature to give. I want to encourage everyone to use their positions to help because I believe it starts with individuals.

“As Albert Pike said, ‘What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal’.”

Oghene is a rewarder and an encourager of those who
remain true to their dream and passion to help their fellow human beings. Her love for fashion coupled with a passion for humanity propelled her to create the GMYT African Humanitarian Awards and Fashion Show.

In its sixth year, Oghene said the award is in two categories. It is an award ceremony that recognizes and celebrates philanthropists like herself because she believes it is important to honour them. It is also a platform that celebrates the best fashion designers who graduated from her academy.

Calling on all and sundry to be their brother’s keeper, Oghene said her intervention became imperative considering the economic situation in Nigeria.
“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 willing, I will get there,” she adds.