When Nubian Markets opened in 2023, Asim Shakur-DuVall imagined a space that would be a centerpiece of Nubian Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. One year later, the cafe and catering manager says this has come to fruition.

“It’s been amazing to see,” he told Boston Public Radio on Thursday. Shakur-DuVall said this was the result of bringing in feedback from Roxbury community members who wanted a say in the market, cafe and grocery store that features flavors and foods from the African diaspora.

“The energy has to be built by the people, because those are going to be the people who make the business run at the end of the day,” he said.

In addition to feedback, they try to create a sense of ownership for the vendors. For example, products by Black-owned companies that are featured in the grocery store have tags next to them with the faces of the owners.

Paulette Ngachoko, owner of spice and sauce brand Hapi African Gourmet, said she’s pleased with how her products are treated by market staff.

“Not only do they offer our products in the freezer section for the meals … But they also use, you know, the sauces … for the meals at the cafe,” Ngachoko said.

One year of operation is no small feat for any new business. About 20% of new businesses fail in the first two years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. For black-owned businesses, it’s closer to 80%.

Shakur-DuVall attributes Nubian Markets’ success to the support from the Roxbury community and the market’s willingness to experiment in finding new forms of revenue. This month he plans to launch breakfast options and smoothies at the cafe, plus selling ice cream in the hot summer months.

Even when business is good, profit margins can be thin in the food business. Nubian Market’s combination of cafe, grocery and catering helps counteract that.

“I think that’s part of the genius of the [markets’] founders,” Shakur-DuVall said, referring to Ismail Samad and Yusuf Yassin.

“They knew just a grocery store or butcher counter wouldn’t work on its own. With multiple streams of revenue and ways to connect with customers, they can make up for smaller margins in the grocery store with profits from catering or the cafe. It’s about the synergy of all of those elements that sort of make it work,” said Shakur-DuVall.

Word about Nubian Markets has spread beyond the Roxbury neighborhood. Customers travel from Medford and Cambridge, even as far away as Atlanta, Shakur-DuVall said. But the best part is that the space has been built up within the community.

“You’re keeping that solid Roxbury core and then you’re … staying true to your roots and just letting other people experience Roxbury,” Shakur-DuVall said.