Amadou the Senegalese entrepreneur that found success with Ria

Amadou Niang, an entrepreneur from Senegal, came to Spain via France and settled in the province of Saragossa (Zaragoza).  After working in a local store and using the Ria network to send money to his family, he learned more about the needs of migrant workers to find a reliable, affordable service.

It was not long before he had the opportunity to own his own store to meet the needs of the community. For this, he received financial support and with his entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and application, he has built a successful business, which is continuing to grow.

Below, is an edited interview given to EFE Emprende which has been translated into English. See the original story in Spanish.

What was your life in Senegal like and what type of work did you do?

AMADOU_03

Amadou (right) celebrates with a client during Halloween at his store in Saragossa.

In Senegal, thanks to the support of my father, I went to study at the Faculty of Law at Cheikh Anta Diop University. I always enjoyed studying and from the time I was young, I was also interested in IT so did some courses.

How and when did you arrive in Spain and what type of work did you find?

Thanks to my studies, I was able to do an exchange in France where I arrived in 2002. In 2005, I decided to come to Spain, a destination that I always liked.

At the beginning, I did translations to help my countrymen. By speaking English, French and Spanish, I had both a good relationship with my compatriots, as well as the authorities that many times had communication difficulties with Africans.

Later I became part of the Senegalese Association of Saragossa, then a fellow Senegalese offered me a job at his ‘locutorio’ [Ed’s note: a shop that often supplies internet access, calling cards and booths and money transfer]. It was there that I learned about the world of money transfer and the need my countrymen have to send money to our country to help our families.

I started to use Ria’s money transfer network and later, I began working at the Ria store in Saragossa. I started to work with Currency Exchange and thanks to Ria I discovered what the real needs of migrants are. One of the main characteristics of the company is that they really care about their customers… They know the culture and traditions and can adapt to people’s different needs.

Amadou Ria

Amadou (front row third from left) with Ria staff members during an Orange Day customer event at the store in Saragossa (Zaragoza).

At what moment did you decide to start your own business?

I have always been a person dedicated to entrepreneurship. When I arrived in Spain, I was clear that my goal was to have my own business. I am conscious that development work is crucial … [and] I love to know that I am helping families and regions.

When I could, I looked for places with the idea to be able to start something of my own to help immigrants and expats, but nothing stood out. I didn’t find anything I liked as much as the Ria store – for its location, strategy, space and for being in a reference area for the foreigners of Saragossa. Surprisingly, one year ago I received a proposal from Ria to [own and ] manage my own store and I didn’t hesitate for a second.

Did you receive some type of help for that?

I received a lot of support, especially from Ria, but also from my family, fellow Senegalese and the Senegalese Association of Saragossa. This process and the transition has been one of the best decisions that I have taken in my life.

How has this business changed your life?

I definitely have another life…. I work hard. But at the end of the day, the reward is great. I am happy. It was my project and I like this work. I know that we are helping the development of families and regions, as many of the migrants that send money do so to support their families, entrepreneurs or their children that are studying. It’s very gratifying to go to work every day knowing that we are helping a lot of people.

Did you ever think that you would become a successful entrepreneur?

It was one of my goals since I left Senegal, but I always had my doubts and fears.

In your case, what was the key to your success?

The key to my success was basically: work very hard and offer the best service possible to my clients. To understand their needs, to put myself in their place, to adapt to their needs and always help them.

Ria Store in Saragossa

Community members queue at Amadou’s store in Saragossa to send money to their friends and families.