Grounded by faith and family, Martha Lupai founded A&M Marketplace to bring international food and culture to the North Nashville community. The international grocery store, located in the Nashville Farmers Market, stocks a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grab-and-go meals, baked goods, and packaged foods from local and international suppliers. The fresh fare caters to North Nashvillians and commuters who frequent the downtown area for work.

Martha and her husband Alex, the market’s co-founder, are creating unique experiences to unite people through multicultural cuisine and quell the shortage of fresh food options in the North Nashville area. Certain parts of North Nashville have long since been deemed food deserts meaning there is limited access to nutritious foods within a certain radius. A&M Marketplace is currently the only minority, woman-owned fresh market on Jefferson Street and sells staples like legumes, coffee, and spices in bulk, making them more affordable per serving. “People shouldn’t have to choose between eating healthy and paying their bills. I believe everyone should be able to provide healthy meals to their families,” Martha shares.

A&M Marketplace is the latest addition to several successful businesses Martha has founded over the years. Immigrating from South Sudan in 1995, Martha graduated from Tennessee State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. After seven years in the field, she decided to expand her passion for social work into full-time entrepreneurship, where she felt she could make an even greater impact.

Martha began selling beauty supply products at the Nashville Farmer’s Market before opening S&E Hair Braiding in Price Plaza on Jefferson Street in 2007. She later expanded her hair braiding business to include Neta’s Naturals, a hair and body care line using all-natural, plant-based ingredients.

A&M Marketplace is the largest project Martha has undertaken to date and opening the market hasn’t been without challenges. Early in the process, she ran into infrastructure and licensing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Martha turned to the NBIC and consulted with Angela Cranes-Jones, who advised her to enroll in the Foundations and Framework programs, where she learned valuable business skills.

Martha also participated in the Smart Growth Digital Lab Initiative as part of NBIC’s Groundwork accelerator program. Through the lab, funded by a $150,000 grant awarded by The Frist Foundation, Martha learned how to create a website and establish social media profiles for her business.

“Working with the NBIC opened my eyes to so many things you don’t always think about as a business owner. I learned how to create an employee handbook and build my own website to target new audiences. I was also able to meet other like-minded individuals and expand my network,” Martha shares. 

Inspired by Angela’s high standards of excellence, Martha applied her newfound insights into making final preparations for the launch of A&M Marketplace. On November 5, 2020, Martha enjoyed a successful soft opening, drawing around fifty local business owners, government officials, and friends. She was presented with A Proclamation from the State of Tennessee by Senator Brenda Gilmore to commemorate the event.

Today, A&M Marketplace carries food items from over 40 suppliers and has four employees. Martha plans to hire more people this year to support the growth of A&M Marketplace and possibly expand her Neta’s Naturals line into major retailers like Target or Sally’s. 

That said, she doesn’t put too much pressure on herself to commit to a concrete plan. “I definitely want to continue scaling and growing, but right now, I’m enjoying this moment and taking it one day at a time,” she says. “I’ll go wherever God leads me.”

Above all else, Martha strives to serve others and do everything from the heart. Citing Oprah and Martin Luther King, Jr. as her biggest influences, Martha says that compassion is a motivating factor behind everything she does. 

A mother to two young daughters, Martha is also passionate about paving the way for the next generation.  “At the end of the day, I want to light the way for other young girls who need role models in the community who look like them. I want to set the bar high to show other Black girls they can be successful and achieve their dreams.”

Share the Post:

Read More

Larry Turnley: From Behind Bars to Beyond Limits

Determined to make a difference, Larry dove headfirst into community service upon his release. He spearheaded annual Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas coat drives. He also penned a thought-provoking book, “What’s Your Excuse?” This powerful work challenged readers to take responsibility for their potential. Larry shared his story of how he transformed his prison experience into a springboard for financial success – saving up a staggering $100,000 in just 5 years!

Read More

Emy Parham: From Passion Project to Environmental Powerhouse

Emy Parham, President of Trutta Environmental Solutions, understands the isolation that can come with running a small business. Shouldering the responsibility of managing Trutta’s finances alone, Emy yearned to streamline the financial aspects of her firm. This would allow her to effectively reach her goal of focusing more on Trutta’s core environmental consulting services.

Read More

become a sponsor

Fill out the form below, and a member of our team reach out regarding your sponsorship.

Please Select Sponsorship Level:
Abigail DaSilva
Abigail DaSilva is the marketing coordinator at NBIC, channeling her passion and creativity to support the organization’s mission of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs. A proud graduate of Tennessee State University, Abigail holds a degree in design, which fuels her artistic sensibilities and impeccable eye for aesthetics. Before joining NBIC, Abigail embarked on her own entrepreneurial journey alongside her brother, where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts of their own venture. This experience honed her skills in strategic promotion, customer engagement, and marketing media. Abigail has played a crucial role in the company, transforming their media marketing strategies, specifically towards a more video-driven approach. Recognizing the power of visual storytelling, she has created compelling content and innovative campaigns that have amplified NBIC’s reach and engagement, strengthening their online presence and impact. Outside of her professional endeavors, Abigail is an avid art buff, frequently visiting museums and exploring immersive experiences that combine technology and creativity. She also has a deep love for travel, shopping, and anything that allows her to utilize her creative mind. With her unwavering commitment and broad range of experience, Abigail is a valuable asset to NBIC. She remains eager to push boundaries, elevate engagement, and empower entrepreneurs through her exceptional marketing expertise.
Anne-Marie Tanner
Anne-Marie Tanner is the Programs Coordinator at NBIC. With a Master’s degree in strategic marketing from Midway University and a Bachelor’s degree in design from University of Kentucky, she brings a unique blend of business experience and creativity to her work. Prior to joining NBIC in March of 2023, Anne-Marie worked as a small business and startup consultant, where she gained valuable experience in guiding entrepreneurs through the challenges and opportunities of launching and growing their businesses. Her expertise in strategic planning and her ability to quickly grasp new concepts makes her a strong asset to the NBIC team. As the Programs Coordinator at NBIC, Anne-Marie manages multiple components, including Foundations, E-Myth, Framework, and Groundwork. Anne-Marie values collaboration and strives to align her work with the vision and expectations of her colleagues. Beyond her professional career, Anne-Marie has a wide range of hobbies and passions. She is an accomplished Olympic weight-lifter. Additionally, with her husband, she started a medical clinic in Martin, TN, a brewery and events center in Paris, TN, and an airbnb property. Their goal is not only to build successful businesses, but also to provide economic stability and job opportunities to as many people as possible. With her extensive background in business, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her commitment to personal growth, Anne-Marie Tanner is an extremely valuable asset to NBIC. Her diverse skill set and positive mindset make her a catalyst for success, both for herself and the new businesses she assists.
Saturnie Antoine
Saturnie Antoine has been a part of NBIC since November 2021, serving as the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and has obtained a professional certification in coaching skills. With a diverse background in corporate work spanning over 15 years, Saturnie has worked in various sectors. As the R.I.S.E. UP Program Manager, Saturnie oversees the entire program. Her responsibilities include structuring the curriculum, sourcing speakers, and organizing the launch campaign. Additionally, Saturnie provides personalized professional coaching to the program participants, offering guidance and support to help them scale their businesses to $1 million plus level. Since the commencement of the program in March 2023, under Saturnie’s leadership, R.I.S.E. UP has witnessed numerous accomplishments and successes. Additionally, the program’s focus on emotional intelligence has helped participants navigate internal challenges and overcome obstacles inhibiting their growth. Outside of work, Saturnie values personal time spent with her family and loved ones. Her true passion lies in her role as a professional coach, where she finds fulfillment in assisting women on their journey towards personal and professional growth. Saturnie’s commitment to her clients and her extensive experience, coupled with her excellent coaching skills, allows her to provide comprehensive support to program participants, enabling them to achieve their goals and reach new heights. Under Saturnie’s leadership, the R.I.S.E. UP Program continues to flourish and make a lasting impact on the lives of female entrepreneurs.
Leroy Cunningham
Leroy Cunningham currently occupies the role of Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC. He holds a major degree in Business Administration from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, along with minor degrees in Accounting and Economics. Leroy’s prior engagement with business development consulting brings great strength to the NBIC team. He has worked at three of the largest market capitalization companies in the world – Emerson Electric, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway. In his current role as the Community and Capacity Building Manager at NBIC, Leroy wears many hats. One of his primary objectives at NBIC is to increase the number of small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses qualified to undertake contracts from prime contractors and government entities. By fostering relationships with community partners and engaging with prime contractors and government entities, Leroy works tirelessly to bridge the gap and provide opportunities for these businesses to flourish. Additionally, Leroy dedicates his time to consulting with business owners, providing them with valuable insights and guidance. By helping businesses at their current stage and empowering them to reach their goals, Leroy greatly contributes to the growth and success of NBIC’s clients. Outside of work, Leroy indulges in his love for reading, sports, and travel. With his vast knowledge, dedication, and passion for community empowerment, Leroy is committed to making a meaningful impact at NBIC. His wealth of certifications and global business experience lends a unique perspective and expertise to NBIC’s initiatives, which will undoubtedly drive the organization forward.
Octavia Wilson-Simmons
Octavia Wilson-Simmons is the Special Project Coordinator at NBIC. With a background as a tank storage broker, Octavia acted as a vital liaison between storage terminals and cargo owners, facilitating contracts for the transportation and storage of products. Prior to NBIC, she also worked as a chemical operator at a chemical company, further enhancing her expertise in the industry. Joining NBIC in early 2022, Octavia initially served as an assistant to Angela before transitioning to her current position as a Special Project Coordinator. In this role, Octavia plays a crucial part in various projects, including MNAA and Elevate 615. She also provides invaluable support to the team, assisting with grants and streamlining processes to ensure efficient collaboration and coordination. Outside of her professional endeavors, Octavia is extremely family-oriented and cherishes family outings and spending quality time with her loved ones. Octavia is also a dedicated DIY enthusiast and seeks to immerse herself in various projects. Octavia embraces the opportunity to collaborate with the NBIC team, support Angela, and contribute to the company’s mission. Having witnessed the growth of businesses firsthand gives Octavia special insight into the entrepreneurial world and the hard work that goes into operating and expanding your business. With her extensive background in the oil industry and her unwavering dedication to assisting others, Octavia continues to make a positive impact within NBIC, among her peers, and within the entrepreneurial community as a whole.