Celebrating Boston’s Black Businesses: Nubian Markets

The brainchild of entrepreneur Yusuf Yassin and Chef Ismail Samad, Nubian Markets is a grocery store, kitchen, cafe, and gathering space centered on the African diaspora.

The goal: Provide fresh food and be an oasis in the area’s food desert for the community.

“My dream is to really make this market a destination not only for the neighbors who in the immediate vicinity, but really people from, you know, Back Bay and from the other communities, to really come to experience the culture,” says Yassin.

According to the Massachusetts Food Trust program, 2.8 million people live in low-income areas without access to grocery stores.

In Boston, only 6% of food retailers sell healthy food on average. Yusef, a Muslim and native of Aritrea, says the closest Halal market to serve the estimated 80-thousand Muslims in greater Boston is in Revere and the supply is limited.

“So, to bring that to the community, it would be very gratifying. You will have tremendous effect on, you know, the well-being of the people who live in the neighborhood,” says Yassin.

But creating change is not without challenges. Real estate prices, securing funding, and construction delays were all barriers Yassin says, this team had to overcome.

“Community-based food systems matter. We’re sourcing from black and brown producers and farmers,” says Chef Ismail Samad. Even before the doors open in Roxbury, he’s been working to apply their model - sustainable ethnic food - across the country in his native Cleveland and Atlanta.

“We really want to make sure the economics stay within our communities. So to be able to have, you know, these sort of anchors in our in our communities, it’s a powerful thing.”

For more information on Nubian Markets and to get notified when they open go to https://www.nubianmarkets.com.

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