Why He’s Interesting: Ismail Samad launched a restaurant in rural Putney, Vermont, operated a catering company on Martha’s Vineyard and co-founded a market in Boston. Now he runs Loiter, a social enterprise project creating an equitable future for his hometown.
The Chameleon: Samad’s superpower is a natural ability to fit in. He’s an unassuming provocateur, eager to challenge perceptions about Black identity. “I was raised by parents that instilled an activist DNA that is impossible for me to ignore.”
Disruptive Transformation: Samad recently acquired Wake Robin Fermented Foods in East Cleveland as an economic driver for small businesses and rural and urban farms. “The perception of East Cleveland has made East Clevelanders hesitant to invest in our own community and outside investors not willing to see value in the city’s people and infrastructure.”
Flip The Script: His Loitering & Unarmed podcast explores systemic issues of excluded communities. “The criminal justice system doesn’t allow Black folks to exist in spaces. We’re not going anywhere. We need to express ourselves without being criminalized.”
Full Circle: At 23, Samad opened a small cafe called Crust and Crumbs. At 43, he’s building an ecosystem in his hometown and running an urban farmstead. “Reconnecting with the people the furthest away from the conversation, yet at the center of it, has me grappling with how to bring the voices of the oppressed to the doorstep of the holders of the wealth to make change.”
Click here to meet Cleveland's Most Interesting People of 2023.