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Princess Kelechi Oghene; leading an academy, providing business knowledge for women

The GMYT Foundation is an empowerment platform for under privileged women to learn various aspects of fashion illustration, design, and manufacture via scholarship provisions to the GMYT Fashion Academy. The foundation not only desires to train and equip women with skills in fashion design but also seeks to provide business knowledge for its beneficiaries to enable them start and grow sustainable businesses and in turn serve as vehicle for empowerment and employment.

The MD/CEO of GMYT is the delectable Princess Kelechi Oghene. A vibrant entrepreneur who grew up in a comfortable home and looked up to her mother for inspiration and direction. Her passion for modelling and fashion started from a tender age, little wonder she has turned out to be the phenomenon she is today.

‘God’s Might’ is the meaning of the acronym GMYT which is the name of Kelechi’s foundation and it comprises of the pattern class, free hand class, illustration and beading classes. With four different program categories: Aquamarine for 3 months, Pearls for 6 months, Sapphire for 9 months and Zircon for 12 months, the academy offers a flexible learning structure for its students to enable them work at their own pace and convenience.

“I started the program because fashion is my passion and most importantly, empowering women with my passion so they can be skilled and independent. The progress has been amazing so far, mouth opening in fact, God has been good. The core purpose of establishing GMYT Fashion Academy is to provide education and service for the development of the society. The Academy is committed to excellence, innovation, student satisfaction and development through shared efforts.” She tells me.

The rate of unemployment in the country is alarming and for Kelechi, teaching skills will go a long way to help support those who aren’t privileged to have a white collar job. In her words, “the economy is still struggling to stabilize post recession, white collar jobs in the country will still not be enough to cater to the growing number of graduates our universities churn out at the end of each academic session annually hence the need for our foundation to help support.” Kelechi says.

On the process of recruitment, she says “we take in students and train them for six months, then let them intern for another six months, allowing them understand the in and out of the business and also learning both pattern and free hand in the process while opening them to a world of possibilities.” Oghene states.

Sharing on the capacity of the academy, Kelechi shares “The academy is fully equipped with modern fashion design and manufacturing infrastructure and offers a conducive learning environment for its students. The training program is facilitated by world class instructors and also boasts of employing the British fashion curriculum in its training programmes. The trainings are practical and hands on and prepare students to become their own bosses and contribute to the alleviation of unemployment in the country through their business ventures. Students are also taught the business ethics of fashion and assisted in starting and growing their own businesses.”   

Worthy of mention is that GMYT has had several graduants, some of them already successfully running a business in the fashion business.

On her view of the fashion industry, she has this to say. Hear her “The fashion industry is vast and filled with both ups and downs, raising funds single handedly to make this work has not been a bed of roses, but God has been faithful. My passion for fashion has been a huge drive and we are looking forward to greater things, one of which is looking into expanding the academy and training 100 scholarship students before the end of the year.”

Situated in the heart of Lekki, the academy is fully equipped with modern fashion design and manufacturing infrastructure and offers a conducive learning environment for its students. The company also comprises of a couture arm and a salon fully equipped with modern beauty facilities.

Fashion has indeed evolved in Nigeria and according to Oghene, “in times past, a typical Nigerian was a get up, put together anything and go person but right now, there’s an evolution in the fashion industry that has allowed our people see fashion in a more glamorous way and people are doing everything in their power to look good.

Kelechi strongly opines that self empowerment is key. Hear her shed more light on this “self empowerment is vital and if you can learn a skill to empower yourself, you will be fine. Rome was not built in a day, so you can always start from somewhere. It is important that you follow your dreams, out there there’s always something for everyone, follow your dreams, follow your passion.”

The foundation is set to launch out officially despite being in existence for a while. The launch of the foundation is slated to attract fashion industry experts, corporate leaders, philanthropists and government leaders who are passionate about the growth of the Nigerian economy and the role women play in the growth of the economy.

The event will also see the celebration of some graduating students with their fashion exhibitions, there will be awards and gift presentations to the best graduating students, music performances and more. To give the graduants a head start, monetary prices ranging from N50,000 to N150,000 including industrial sewing machines, will be presented to the students with the best three collections.

In addition to the scholarships, a subsidiary of the foundation, the Learn to Earn Initiative promises in-house employment opportunities to students who go through the training programme on the auspices of the foundation. While they undergo training, students will have the opportunity to intern with the academy, get paid, and are likely to be retained as illustrators, designers, instructors or production staff.

Kemi Ajumobi

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