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Nubian Markets provides a model for investing in community health

People stood outside Nubian Markets in Roxbury during its grand opening May 17. The fast-casual eatery, grocery store, and gathering space is the brainchild of co-owners Ismail Samad and Yusuf Yassin.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

We are excited to see Nubian Markets in full operation (“In Roxbury, Nubian Markets officially opens at Bartlett Place,” Metro, May 18), especially considering a recent Boston Public Health Commission report finding that average life expectancy for residents of Nubian Square is 23 years shorter compared with their Back Bay neighbors. This jaw-dropping number is a call-to-action for funding organizations to prioritize projects such as Nubian Markets — developments that bolster health outcomes for Boston’s populations of color.

The market and cafe resulted from extensive community engagement, which indicated the need for culturally appropriate food for the Muslim neighborhood and a gathering space. Nubian Markets’ owners are supplying their community with something deeply meaningful and are prioritizing business practices that support local minority-owned businesses. There is a need for Nubian Markets and businesses like it, but the path from dream to brick and mortar is not as clear as it should be for business owners of color, especially those looking to open in underserved communities.


It is vital to our neighborhoods and their residents that we prioritize projects like Nubian Markets that catalyze and maintain community well-being and build generational wealth in communities of color. The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation was one of several funders of this important project. This support included offering the co-owners a purchase option loan for ownership of the real estate. It is our duty to close critical gaps in these communities through innovative financing. We hope Nubian Markets’ success will encourage new funders to make transformational investments in neighborhoods and business owners of color.

Moddie Turay

President and CEO

Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation