Souadou Niang’s dream is to conquer Africa and why not the world?
She started to clean up. Today she is the manager of her own 5-star hotel in the Senegalese capital. This is the story of Souadou Niang, a woman who started from scratch.
Growing up in Dakar, at the age of 18, she left for New York, her pocket empty and her dreams full. Once there, she started working to pay for her studies and then moved to Washington. One day the student visited the Ritz Carlton Hotel. « I thought it was beautiful and just asked if they were looking for someone to work. She started as a cleaning lady and continued her management studies at the same time.
In a country of melting polt, and as a Senegalese, the young woman felt that there was a place for her to conquer. Once the Bachelor’s degree was in her pocket, she returned to the same hotel to join the management team. Souadou caught her passion for the luxury hotel business.
She told herself that one day she would return home to do the same thing and show « that it is possible to offer quality service in Senegal. »
She was in a country where they say « Sky is the limit ».
Palms Luxury opens in 2017. Souadou Niang’s dream comes true. A luxury establishment with 60 employees, 80% of whom are women. The feminine preeminence in her team is a well thought-out choice; « women are born managers. They have the ability to manage many things at once. All they need is a little training to become successful ».
The beginnings were difficult, she recalls. The young woman who returned home had only discouraging answers; « you won’t get far »; « it’s not for women, nor for African women ».
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Without any guarantees, she continues to knock on the doors of banks. The answer was invariably negative. Banks are not structured like in the US, » she compares, « where you don’t have to provide collateral to take out a loan. It’s a country where they tell you, the limit is heaven ».
One day, however, she had the chance to meet a senior director of a risk committee who told her: « I see your determination, your eyes sparkle when you talk about your project. I believe in you and I will take the risk of lending you money ». It was the crowning achievement of several years of hard work. She won her bet.
Today her dream is to conquer Africa and why not the world. « Franchises from all over the world come to Africa. We should be able to export our know-how elsewhere. To transfer the concept of Afro-chic boutique hotels ».
Since she was very young, Souadou Niang was a management enthusiast. She wanted to start her own business and prove that African women are capable of taking on big projects. She succeeded.