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Kay Ovia on her passion for young people

KAY OVIA is the CEO of Quantum Markets, and initiator of the Star Rising Talent Hunt for children and young people. In this interview, she tells FUNKE OSAE-BROWN about her love for young people.

Mrs.-Kay-Ovia2

She spots grey skirt suits as she walks into the venue of our meeting that warm Wednesday morning. She looks pretty in her trim figure for a woman who is over 50. I could tell from her countenance she is passionate about the development of young people.
Therefore, it is not a surprise when she tells me about her new project, Star Rising Talent Hunt.
As an initiator of the Star Rising Talent Hunt for children and young people, she has a long-term vision to nurture and development talents in young people.

“There is really not much to my good looks,” she says, as soon as the interview began, “believe it or not I am over 50 years. Sometimes, you wake up in the morning and the bones are not working, but you ask God to give you the grace to move on.”

She tells me she does not have a strict beauty regimen. “It is nothing really. If you are diligent with your hygiene then you would be beautiful. Hygiene, they say, is next to godliness. Then you have to be good on the inside, have the word of God in you and then everything would be great. That is one thing I have told my children. You don’t have to be beautiful for the sake of being beautiful or want to be like the next Miss World. ”The truth is that beauty comes from within. It includes your eating healthy, good hygiene and you just doing the right thing.”

Kay Ovia is the wife of Zenith Bank’s chairman, Jim Ovia, whom she describes as a very wonderful person to be with. “I would also say that my husband is very romantic. He doesn’t miss my birthday or any other important date. Even when I am abroad, you can be sure that he is coming with a massive bunch of roses. Women need to teach their men how to be romantic. A man may not be naturally romantic but you can guide him. You need to step up the game.”

In spite of her husband’s involvement in his personal foundation, Ovia says she independently wants to touch the lives of young people. “I realised that I could do my own, reaching out to a different group to make a difference. At the beginning, I began to ask myself how to do this and that was how things began to fall in place. It is a life at a time, and if you try to touch lives, it goes from there. By the time we have one centre opened, we intend to take about 200 people and attend to these children on the basis of first come, first served. ”The centre would be filled with activity. We are also going to have a studio, a library, and we would have resource persons from abroad who would coach them in the areas of singing and dancing. In addition, we would also be working with celebrities in Nigeria and it would give us a total package.”

She says her talent hunt is a long-term vision, as  “it is not just a one-off thing where only prizes are given. We plan to make the children arm themselves with adequate knowledge to restore what some of them have lost as well as make them believe in themselves.”

Ovia explains that unlike most talent hunt projects that attract a fee, Star Rising Talent Hunt is free. ”It is not to make money; so, the entry and audition is totally free. It is an opportunity to come and have an enabling environment to showcase your talent. We are here to mentor, coach them and at the end of the day they would become great patriots for the nation,” she says.

In addition, she says the talent hunt includes an academic and mental exercise for students in senior secondary school.

According to her, contestants will be quizzed on subjects like mathematics, English, general knowledge, current global affairs and the sciences. “We are going to discover, hone and nurture God-given talents. This would be done through free counselling and mentoring programmes for children within the age bracket 7 to 17 years. Sadly, a number of projects people have for children are actually for teenagers,” she adds.

Star Rising Talent Hunt is not just about singing and dancing, but developing talents in different areas. There is a team of trainers that are providing talent development classes. “We also provide a well-equipped modern library. The mastermind is for the teenagers, especially those in upper secondary schools. To make our selections, we did not go to schools for the rich and famous. There are lots of children that do not have the opportunity that need to be reached. These are our targets and that is why we are going to government schools and the orphanages.

”You will be amazed at the raw talents that we found in these schools, and I know that the judges would select the best.”
Ovia says she intends to take her passion for young people as far as possible. “It is a passion that I have had over the years. I actually found out that through this passion I can help children. I have been helping some by paying school fees and mentoring those who come to me. I do have a lot of children on my sponsorship list. I learnt that from my husband – he has the Jim Ovia Foundation.”

For Zuriel Oduwole and Malala Yousuf, Ovia says she believes young people should be given the opportunity to make their voice heard.  “You can see that Malala and Zuriel are making a difference in their world today. Malala is not a singer, she is not a dancer, but she stands out. She is an orator, she talks and people listen; adult listen to her. If I have a child like that I know I would push that child far. Here I am not talking about my biological children. Of course, I have children who can speak very well for themselves.

“I strongly believe that every child needs to be able to speak what is on his mind; they should be able to talk and express themselves. They need to be able to say this is my talent; I want to show the world, this is my dream. Not just five minutes of glory or 15 minutes of fame. They should say to themselves, ‘I also want to see, what the rest of the world wants to see.’”

Her love for young people stemmed from her experience as a child. She describes herself as a tomboy who loves climbing trees. “ I know that on one or two occasions my mother had to pull my ears and sit me down. For my dream as a young girl, I wanted to be a lawyer because my father was a lawyer. However, I was someone that liked to take something on and the easy thing for me was to do the mathematics and get it over. That was how I chose Finance.”

Ovia observes that the children selected for the talent hunt are well taken care of and parents need not worry about their welfare and security. “All those who are working with us are vetted. We would as much as possible go through a proper process. By the time we interview people who would work with us, they must be people others can vouch for. You can only do so much but I know that God would do the rest. We would get people to monitor the process and avoid the risk; that is something we would not tolerate at all. If you have a CCTV there, it would caution people, especially if they have any bad intention or anything like that. All those measures would be taken care of. If I cannot leave my child with just anyone, then I won’t leave other people’s children with just anyone, so all those details would be taken care of.”

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