Souadou Niang is the owner of The Palms Luxury Boutique Hotel, a 5-star hotel located in Dakar, Senegal.
At the age of 18, Souadou moved from Senegal to New York to further her education. As she studied to earn a Bachelors degree, she also earned a living as a cleaning lady at a Ritz Carlton hotel located in Tysons Corner, VA.
“I arrived in the country where they tell you the sky is the limit. My vision was to be part of the hotel management,” she said during an interview with BBC.
After completeing her studies, Souadou returned home on a mission to prove that Senegal could have the same luxury accommodations as the hotel she had dedicated over a decade of her life to.
However, accomplishing that dream was easier said than done. “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. I knocked on the door of several banks,” she said.”
The ambitious entrepreneur eventually met an investor who believed in her vision, and her goal of being a hotel owner in her home country came to reality.
In terms of visual presentation, The Palms rivals any other five-star hotel you can find anywjere else in the world. Furthermore, the hotel’s staff is 80 percent women, an ode to Souadou’s belief in the spirit and capabilities of African women.
“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,” Souadou said.