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Old North Dayton neighborhood celebrates the opening of African market

Angelique Nyambanguka with her husband, Alexis Sebatware. The couple opened the Umoja Market shortly after settling in Dayton.
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
Angelique Nyambanguka with her husband, Alexis Sebatware. The couple opened the Umoj Market shortly after settling in Dayton.

On Sunday, members of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association and the surrounding community got together to celebrate the grand opening of a market on Stanley Avenue.

The Umoja East and Central African Market sells foods from various regions of Africa. Umoja means unity is Swahili. The market is stocked with cassava flour, red palm oil, Rwandan tea, and spices to cook dishes from Liberia all the way to Burundi.

It also carries daily goods like diapers, hair care products and cleaning supplies. Goods which the neighborhood has had a gap in after the 2019 tornadoes destroyed the nearby Grocerylane Market just up the road.

Angelique Nyambanguka owns the market with her husband, Alexis Sebatware. The couple has been living in Dayton for nearly seven years after seeking refuge from war in their home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nyambanguka said it was the desire to connect the community through food — and a business mindset— that drove the couple to open up the market.

“The vision of the [market] is to work together. It doesn’t matter where you come from, when you come to Umoja, we’re all together in unity," Nyambanguka said.

The market joins a growing number of immigrant-owned businesses in Montgomery County. In 2019, about seven percent of businesses in the county were immigrants-owned, according to a research study by the New American Economy.

After the 2019 tornadoes destroyed the nearby market, the neighborhood association began taking a closer look at food scarcity and addressing the community’s lack of a full-service supermarket.

Matt Tepper runs Evans Bakery with his wife Jennifer Evans. He is also a member of the Old North Dayton Business Association and said big box grocery stores haven’t shown any interest in investing in the community.

“They don't think the market's there,” Tepper said. “So our alternative is to either have endless food pantries or have smaller grocery stores that are more accessible to various parts of the neighborhood.”

Tepper added, the idea of having smaller markets in the area is a much better solution since it makes the neighborhood more inclusive to immigrant communities and more diverse.

The store joins two other markets in the area, La Michoacana Mexican Market and U.S. International Foods.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming