I grew up in a house where business was discussed rather frequently. For as long as I can remember, my Dad has had a paper and plastics company in Nigeria. Some might remember standing against a wall or a door to mark how tall you were, I, on the other hand, used to get someone to trace me on one of the lengths of paper made in the factory. Understandably, when we moved out of Lagos it became rather difficult to save my life-size tracings. Regardless, the memory itself has been etched in my mind as the first time I was exposed to one of the family businesses. Since then, I’ve been on various factory floors and in offices run by my parents and uncles. Knowing this, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m a business major at university. But actually, I never thought I’d be one.
It all changed when I was 16 and my Mom got the opportunity to have her own business — forcing all of us to move to Birmingham, UK. Due to class scheduling difficulties I had also started taking a business class as part of the International Baccalaureate. With this much exposure, business became the most practical degree choice in front of me.
I started off my time at Northeastern University as a generic BSBA major. In my first semester, I focused primarily on school and getting the grades. But by finals season in December, I was feeling extremely unmotivated. When I was back on campus in January I craveded a source of motivation, this is what led me to a WISE, Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship. WISE was a new club on campus, started by 2 students previously involved in Northeastern’s other entrepreneurial organizations. WISE empowered me to find my own voice and taught me to chase after opportunities. It wasn’t long after joining that I declared a combined major of Finance and Entrepreneurship. I often credit WISE for helping me realize my love for entrepreneurship, but upon reflection, I should instead be crediting the organization for reminding me where I came from.
I’m not exactly sure when I learned the term ‘entrepreneur’, but I do know that for many years I failed to realize that I came from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather started with a small business which my uncles turned into multinational companies. My father started a business in a country he didn’t know well. And my mother finally got her chance after having been a stay at home mom for 19 years. Without me realizing it, entrepreneurship has made my world go round ever since I was born.
I don’t know what my future will look like, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be a founder myself. For now, all I can do is learn as much as I can, so that when I stumble upon an idea that wakes me up at 3 in the morning, I’ll be ready to get to work.
Originally published at https://www.elinaagrawal.com on February 6, 2021.