Fully focused on the here and now

For a period expat partner Emmanuel Agha juggled running a business in his hometown of Lagos with expat life and studies in the Netherlands. But he eventually decided that wasn’t sustainable.

Hard to let go

“I co-founded a business in Nigeria, just over 10 years ago. Along with my partners, I built it up from scratch. It was a big part of my life and I am very proud of what we have achieved. When my wife was offered an opportunity in Amsterdam, I was torn. We really wanted the kids to experience a new environment, and an international education, so we were very happy to relocate, but I wasn’t ready to let go of the business,” says Emmanuel, a fintech enthusiast and father of two.

Neither here nor there

“Initially my solution was to just keep working for my company, which required me to travel back and forth to Lagos. When you move back and forth like that it often feels like you’re neither here nor there,” says Emmanuel, who enrolled in a master’s programme in international finance at UVA after relocating to the Netherlands. “As my studies started to demand more of my time, I had to reconsider the practicality of dividing my time between Nigeria and the Netherlands.”

Ready for what’s next

“In the end, I decided to take a step back from my business and leave it in the hands of my partners in Lagos. That has allowed me to be fully focused on my studies and life in the Netherlands. Besides the master’s, I’m learning Dutch – that requires energy too! It’s a challenging language for me but I’m making progress. On top of that, I have a business idea. I developed the concept as part of my master’s but I would like to try and get funding and bring it to life. I also have one eye on the job market. Whether I start a business, or join the workforce, I’m excited to see what happens next,” says Emmanuel, who also needs to reserve some energy for his main pastime. “I joined a group of cyclists with guys from a mix of countries – Zambia, Turkey, South Africa, Ukraine, the UK and the Netherlands. Every Saturday, we jump into the saddle and go for a long spin, usually about 50 km. It’s been a fun way to meet people and see the country at the same time.”

Photo: Emmanuel Agha

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