At 20, his father, the late Alhaji Ahmed Mai-Deribe, had handed over his business empire to him.
When his father took that decision, it came as a surprise to many, who wondered if it was well thought out.
But many years after, those who faulted the decision could not agree less with his sense of judgment, as it is now obvious that his father must have discovered some innate talent in him.
Today, young Mai-Deribe, Zanna sits atop his late father’s companies, including Deribe Hotel in Maiduguri managed by the London Hotels of the United Kingdom; Deribe Motel (a 300- room hotel/motel),Preussag Drilling company; Dalaram Soft Drinks Company; Cavendish Petroleum; Deribe Estates, London; Deribe Companies in Senegal and Deribe Farms, Florida, among others.
As evidence of his entrepreneurial skill, Mai-Deribe, who successfully managed a fortune of over $1bn in his early 20s, also owns one of the most beautiful and luxurious private jets, Gulfstream.
But typical of the popular saying that the rich also cry, the oil mogul is, at the moment, troubled, as his most viable business.
Concern, Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria Ltd, has lost its oil block license, OML 11.
The revocation, it was further learnt, was due to some huge debts incurred by the company.
Cavendish, which is located offshore Nigeria, is said to produce an estimated 120, 000 barrels of oil per day. When the oil mining lease expired in 2016, Deribe, a graduate of Lynn University of the United States.,
Applied for an extension. But with the current development, it is unclear what his next line of action will be.
Deribe had his early education in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria both in Egypt and London, United Kingdom. He also attended the local Arabic education school ,”Sangaya” in the Kanuri language .
He was the youngest African to ever own a customized Mercedes-Benz saloon car in Africa , owing to the relationship between his late father and Mercedes Company in Germany – he was the biggest Mercedes customer in Africa.
He had been gifted the special customized edition of the brand with number plate BO 9449 ZA) on his wedding in the 1980s by the owners of the Mercedes Company (Chrysler -Benz) in Stuttgart-Germany.