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If “you keep this up, one day you're going to own this place” was a person. Born and raised in Dakar, Souadou Niang moved to New York when she was 18. When she got there, she had to work to pay for her studies. She then moved to Washington DC and walked past the Ritz Carlton. Seeing how beautiful it was, she decided to inquire about a job. So she worked as a cleaning lady while studying,
“I started cleaning toilets. Today, I am the manager of my own five-star boutique hotel with 60 employees,” Niang told BBC Africa.
Despite working in the lower rank of the hotel, Niang was confident about her potential. After working for 10 years in the hotel in Washington, Niang got her Bachelors degree, and she got a job with the management team at the same hotel she started working as a cleaner. Rising up through the ranks is where her passion arose. She new that one day she'd return to Senegal and show that luxury and quality of service can be achieved there just like in the US.
And sure enough in 2017, Niang was able to open the Palms Luxury Boutique Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. And get this, 80% of the staff is female.
“I decided to set up a structure led by women. As a woman, I knew what I was capable of, and I saw it in African women. For me, women are born managers, because they have the capacity to manage a lot of things. You only need to do a short training course to have what you want.” – Souadou Niang
Niang was met with several roadblocks in attempting to achieve her dream. One of which was banks not willing to take a chance on her due to the fact that she was a woman. “I only had answers such as ‘You won’t get far, ‘It’s not for women, ‘It is not for African women,’ and I had no guarantees in Dakar. Unfortunately, banks aren’t shaped like in the U.S., where you don’t need guarantees. I knocked on the door of several banks,” she said.” These continued bumps in the road for being a woman has further fueled her passion to give women opportunities. She has a deep rooted belief in the spirit and capabilities of African women.
And Palms Luxury is just the beginning for the Senegalese entrepreneur. Niang has much bigger dreams. No, I won't say dreams. I'm going to call it goals. She hopes to expand the hotel locations across Africa and eventually go international.
“My dream is to conquer Africa, and why not the world. As the international hotel franchises in Africa, we should be able to adapt our Afro-chic boutique hotels in Western countries, and show African women can run luxury boutique hotels with the same standards as the international hotels.”
Forbes reported that Black women are among the fasted growing group among entrepreneurs. And Souadou Niang is a perfect example of why that is. Black Girl Magic isn't just something cool to put on a T-shirt. It is a way of life and a rallying call. Black women are taking the entrepreneurial world by storm. Whether it's in real estate, whether it's through vending machines, whether it's through franchising or even if it's through inventing an entirely new product just to help your own day to day issues… Black women are leading the charge for Black business. And we here at Black Business Boost are here for it.
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