#BlackGirlMagic: Adenah Bayoh rises from refugee to real estate and franchise mogul!


There is something about adversity that ripens you for success. Once you go through hell and high water, the slightest opportunity becomes golden. Hardship readies you for success way more than a silver spoon ever will. You want it more, you dream about it, and you prepare for it. And when you give an opportunity to a Black woman after she’s gone through stuff? Sit back and watch #BlackGirlMagic happen!

This is the story of Adenah Bayoh, a Liberian who fled her home country in the time of Civil War and then went on to become a successful woman in the United States. She now owns a real estate owner portfolio worth $200 million in urban redevelopment projects. She is the owner of two IHOP franchises. And she does all of this while being a mother. That’s not just impressive, that’s magic!

She may have arrived to the States at the age of 13 and straight into a refugee camp, but she soon turned that around. Hard work, consistency and just a burning desire to RISE has seen this young lady become insurmountable.

Adenah Bayoh’s Keys To Success


We all know that if there is a secret to success, it is tying all the strands together and doing everything at the same time. It is, however, still worth reminding ourselves what these strands are. And nobody does it better than Adenah Bayoh* herself:

1. Work ethic is the key to success

“There is no substitute for hard work. You have to put the work in if you want to be successful. My grandmother would always say: ‘You have to wake up before everyone else gets up and do more than everyone else.’ I watched my grandmother navigate her way through almost any challenge because of her willingness to put in the work.”


2. Being a victim – or not – is a choice.

“Adversity puts you at a crossroads. You can allow it to victimise you or propel you. Escaping the war made me hungry for opportunity. I figured out that there was no problem for which I could not find a solution if I dedicated all of my efforts and smarts to it. So, I bring that tenacity, work ethic and commitment to everything I do.”


3. See possibilities, even in tough situations.

Speaking about being in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone at the age of 8 as they fled war-torn Liberia. “My cousin and I would go back to Liberia to get local vegetables and then cross back into Sierra Leone and sell the vegetables to the people in our camp. I learned that there is always opportunity even in the worst possible circumstances.”


4. Ignore the naysayers and gain confidence through preparation.

“I think my ability to run a successful franchise was met with some doubt. However, my biggest issue was getting over my own insecurities. It is often not about what the world projects on to you but rather what you internalize. I worked my way through it, I did as much research and preparatory work as I could to build my confidence. Also, I relied on the expertise of those with more experience than me; I sought their counsel and help. The more I learned about the business the more comfortable and confident I became.”


5. Get creative!

“After college, I was working at a bank and decided to purchase a three-family home as an investment. I lived on the first floor and had tenants on the other floors. The rent from my tenants covered the mortgage payments leaving me with more cash flow. If you get stuck, you must be willing to revisit your ideas and assumptions and be willing to change them. Flexibility is key.”


6. Give back.

“There were many of us (living in low-income housing called Fairview Homes where she grew after moving to the States) that were working people who wanted better quality businesses in our community, but better restaurants and grocery stores did not think there was a market. So, I decided that I would bring better quality goods and services to urban markets and pay employees more money and provide them with benefits.

“Through this model, I saw a way to benefit the community on two fronts:  giving them access to quality services and improving their economic conditions, which makes them better able to afford higher quality goods and services.”


7. Don’t over-task.

“I work hard to balance both and try not to over-task myself. Being an entrepreneur is part of my identity just as being a mother is. I try to teach my children by example. I don’t try to do it all; thankfully, I have a great support network on which I rely. My primary goals are to run successful businesses and to raise children who are well adjusted and socially-conscious.”

*Quotes from an interview originally found in ENTREPRENEUR

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