This Refugee-Turned-Entrepreneur Owns 2 IHOP Restaurants, Her Own Soul Food Restaurant, and a $250 Million Real Estate Portfolio

Business Women brings us the story of Adenah Bayoh, who immigrated to the United States at 13 from Liberia. Thriving as a refugee already showed her resilience, but Bayoh continued to grow and prosper--and extends the growth and opportunities to everyone around her. Listed as one of Ebony Magazine’s Power 100, Bayoh opened multiple restaurants, has a portfolio with more than $250 million in urban redevelopment, and has used her wealth, projects, and connections to build up the communities around her. Read below and click through to follow Bayoh's journey through investing in real estate; using her earnings to open two IHOP franchies; her newest venture in real estate development; and how she helps families, nonprofit organizations, and more.

At age 13, Adenah Bayoh escaped the civil war in her native country of Liberia, immigrated to the United States and is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in her home state of New Jersey. She is the founder and CEO of Adenah Bayoh and Companies, which is the parent corporation that owns IHOP franchises in Newark, Paterson, and Irvington, New Jersey.

She is also the owner of a real estate development portfolio with over $250 million in urban redevelopment projects. Because of the success of her flagship IHOP in Irvington, she is the second largest employer in the Township. Recently, Adenah launched Cornbread, her signature line of fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurants.

Her inspiration

Adenah began her career as an entrepreneur at an early age. After attending a public high school in Newark, New Jersey and putting herself through college, she secured a job in banking and began purchasing multifamily homes as investments. Following the financial success of these investments, she left her banking position to concentrate on building her own businesses focused on transforming and empowering disadvantaged communities.

Inspired by her grandmother, who owned a restaurant in Liberia, Adenah decided to use the profits generated from her real estate investments to open an IHOP in Irvington, New Jersey. After overcoming financial challenges and a learning curve, she cut the ribbon on her first location at age 27, making her one of the youngest IHOP franchisees in the country.

Read more