Israel Ademola Gbadebo Haastrup is a Nigerian businessman who heads Haastrup Line (West Africa) Ltd, an investment and holding company with interest in shipping, cement and banking. He is also director and founder of Space World Airline.
Haastrup was born in Ado Ekiti to a polygamous family, his father, Lajimbiti was the last son of the Owa Ajimoko I but raised by his brother after the death of the Owa. Lajimbiti had about 8 wives and Haastrup's mother was the 3rd wife of Lajimbiti.
Haastrup attended the Emmanuel School Ado Ekiti, where the headmaster was a strict disciplinarian who sometimes used canes to make patterns on the heads of students as punishment or to induce fear. For his secondary education, he went to to Imade College, Owo then under the principal, Adekunle Ajasin, at Imade, he excelled in mathematics.
After his secondary education, he decided to try his luck in Lagos, settling at the house of his uncle, Alexander Haastrup, a wealthy businessman and the son of Ajimoko II. He secured a job with the Nigeria Railways as a traffic station clerk and also worked for his uncle as a ship handler. In 1957, he left the railways and joined the Nigerian Ports Authority by then Haastrup was contemplating a career in marine engineering and a career at sea. In 1958, he earned a scholarship to become the first set of marine officers for the newly formed Nigerian National Shipping Line. While on his course of study, he met and married a lady from Ghana, Elizabeth Nana. He finished his course earning a qualification as a captain.
When Haastrup returned to the Nigeria National Shipping Company, the firm was still controlled by Europeans who captained the vessels and were reluctant to give the young upstart a ship to captain. Hostilities brewed between him and the Europeans and Haastrup decided to leave sensing little support for him and other Africans in the nascent company. Desirous of operating a shipping line, he entered a partnership with Olu Fadahunsi, a commercial lawyer and Muri Salami an accountant. The trio secured a loan and a ship from National Bank of Nigeria and embarked on a shipping venture under the name Kuta Shipping. However, after two and a half years, he left the venture after loosing trust in his two other partners. He then tried his hands in other ventures including a debacle in trawling and clearing and forwarding. However, he continued with his ambition to own a ship and secured a mortgage to buy a vessel. The mortgage was secured with his house in London, he also took a loan from a finance house to refit the vessel. The vessel was then registered under his new company, Haastrup Lines West Africa Ltd. Though he was reluctant to enter a new partnership, a Swede after much persuasion gained favor with Haastrup and the two hatched a partnership. In the mid 1970s, the new venture succeeded and grew from a single vessel to four vessels. This was during the time, Nigeria was witnessing an oil boom and the country's import was expanding not helped by the cement armada of 1975.
During the mid 1970s, Haastrup relocated to Port Harcourt. In Port Harcourt, he and his Swedish partners established a jetty. However, the jetty project was threatened by a government policy in 1982 when the government of Shehu Shagari banned private jetties. Haastrup line though had interest in another venture, a terminal and cement bagging operation owned, Eastern Bulkchem Company.
Over the years, Haastrup has made investments in various projects including Concord Hotel and Resort in Ilesa, his hometown, real estate and an airline.