Entrepreneur Adenah Bayoh has been a successful entrepreneur since she was six; selling bread in Liberia, and attributes her success to one constant.
“Hard work,” Bayoh tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“I wouldn’t say I was successful in everything I’ve tried, there have been some failures and that’s expected with anything or anyone. I’ve been extremely hard working in anything I’ve done and I’m very optimistic. I understand there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and that situation may be very hard right now but you’re going to get through it.”
Today, Bayoh is among the most successful Black female entrepreneurs in New Jersey. In addition to being one of the youngest IHOP franchise owners in its history, owning four locations in the Garden State, the Fairleigh Dickinson University alum also sports an impressive real estate portfolio, is a partner in the all-vegan eatery, Urban Vegan, and last year expanded her soul-food franchise, Cornbread, into the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York.
The entrepreneur tells BLACK ENTERPRISE that Cornbread’s Brooklyn location has done amazing business and she was surprised at how fast the community embraced it.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be in Brooklyn and it’s been a godsend, to be honest with you,” says Bayoh. “It’s been amazing to see the love the community has shown us. I’m just in gratitude and very grateful for how the Brooklyn community has embraced Cornbread and when you think about growing a concept right now I think if you can make it in Brooklyn you can make it anywhere. And that’s how we kind of look at the expansion into Brooklyn. We wanted to test that market because we knew there was a great concentration of our customers and our people there and it’s just been extremely powerful.”
Cornbread has been so successful with its expansion, Bayoh is now gearing up to franchise the restaurant to “bring more women and more minorities in a franchising space.”
“Black entrepreneurs have shown that if we give them the support they need, they can be successful, so when I think about this year what I really want to do is perfect Cornbread and franchise it,” Bayoh added.
While things are looking up for Bayoh today, like most business owners across the U.S., the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic saw her struggle to get funding to keep her businesses afloat.
“It was devastating to be very honest with you, it was devastating not to be able to have access to PPP funding and it was just a really hard time but we relied and depended on the community which was able to help pull us through,” Bayoh says. “I can tell you right now we’re not really out of this pandemic, it’s not been easy, it’s been a fight of resilience, it’s been a fight of just trying to make sure that all your hard work doesn’t go in vain when you see your restaurant close.”
Bayoh adds she is proud of the growth of Black female entrepreneurs since the pandemic, but she was quick to point out that Black entrepreneurs and business owners need access to capital and as a result, many Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. are forced to start their businesses with their own money.
“Entrepreneurship is hard, it’s extremely hard and I think the best way to describe it is moving from crisis to crisis to crisis and you wake up tomorrow and do it all over again,” Bayoh tells BLACK ENTERPRISE. “I think that it becomes like mental gymnastics if you can manage and get through these hard times and understand that hard times are not here to last, they’re just a moment in time.”