ROI Influencers: People of Color 2023 — No. 1: Adenah Bayoh

1: Adenah Bayoh
Founder & CEO
Adenah Bayoh & Cos.

Here’s the first big question: At what point can we stop describing Adenah Bayoh with the following terms and phrases: civil war survivor, immigrant, self-made entrepreneur, restaurateur and real estate developer, community leader or philanthropist?

Perhaps those descriptions — all of which are profoundly and unquestionably true — can be replaced by this one: a role model and inspiration for everyone in the state of New Jersey.

Bayoh is the No. 1 selection on the 2023 ROI Influencers: People of Color list, which is being released this week. She is the first woman to earn the top spot in six years of doing the list — an embarrassing oversight that finally is being corrected.

And, yet, it doesn’t seem enough of an honor for Bayoh.

After all, how do you honor someone who fled her native Liberia at age 13, came to Newark (where she was a product of the Newark public school system), graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2001 — and quickly began a career as an entrepreneur, acquiring her first IHOP franchise just four years later.

Who turned one IHOP into four — and then created her own restaurant brands: Cornbread and Urban Vegan.

Who became a real estate developer to help house her restaurant brands — and then used that role to house others. Her latest development, Southside View, a 40-unit multifamily housing complex in Newark’s South Ward, became the first woman-owned or Black-owned real estate development entity in New Jersey to receive a coveted Low Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.

Her determination to succeed — and do good while doing it — should not come with a note about her ethnicity or gender.

It should come with a note of gratitude: She is a New Jersey treasure. It’s time more people started describing her as such.

Read all the influencers below: