The Spice Queen: Ebere Akadiri [The Hague, Netherl...

The Spice Queen: Ebere Akadiri [The Hague, Netherlands]

When Eberes husband was posted to the Netherlands, she left her two restaurants and 56 employees and cancelled her plans to open a bakery. With her five children, ageing between 5 and 14, she left her hometown of Port Harcourt with plans to take a break from work. But soon her entrepreneurial spirit made being a stay-at-home mum impossible. Two years later Ebere gives cooking lessons, has opened a shop and has launched her own brand of West African spices Ataro Food and Spices.

In the quiet basement of her shop, away from the employees and visitors, Ebere tells her story.

So how did it all start?

I studied Food Science and Technology in Nigeria and did my industrial training at Mr Biggs, a large fast food chain. After my studies I worked for Schlumberger for two years but left to start a ladies boutique. I used to travel to the US, Paris and the UK to buy clothes for my shop. That was when I had my first child so I was trying to balance being a mum and also doing something I love. Then I expanded to a bigger space.

But I remembered that I had wanted to have a fast food place when I worked at Mr Biggs so I invested in books about how to manage a fast food restaurant. After eight years of running a boutique, I also opened a restaurant, Just Relish in Port Harcourt. Six months later its really incredible the whole building where my shop was burned down. I lost everything. I had not renewed my insurance (It wasnt so popular in Nigeria then). That taught me a lesson!

But the restaurant did really well. After three years I expanded to a bigger branch and a year later I ordered equipment to start a commercial bakery. At this point I had 56 employees. And then we left for the Netherlands.

Did you see it as the end of your past life or a new beginning?

This was the first time I’d lived abroad and the first time I’d travelled with my children. Before I arrived in 2013 people made me afraid. They said, oh you know you cant hire a nanny, it’s too expensive so you have to do it all yourselfSo I said ok, no problem. Maybe it’s time to rest because Ive been working all my life.

Nigeria is a very lively community and of course I had a lot of friends and a big network. But here, I didnt know anyone. Everything was different starting with the language barrier and the people.

Initially I didn’t like it. I wondered, “what am I doing here?”

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Diane Lemieux was born in Quebec and moved to live abroad for the first time at the age of three. That journey continued through 11 countries on five continents during which she collected four languages, two passports and several cultural identities. She started her career in international development but decided over 15 years ago to pursue her writing career. She is author of four books including The Mobile Life: a new approach to moving anywhere and Culture Smart! Nigeria. Diane is based in The Hague, Netherlands.


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