Aleksandar Subotin is a pastor and church planter in northern Serbia. He and his church run church planting programs in 10 villages within a 50km radius of their area. Aleksandar also runs a flower and produce business. The vision behind his business is the desire for his church to become self-supporting.
“A few years ago, I went to a conference about ownership and development. One speaker said ‘We’ve been supporting a church for more than 20 years. Every year they need firewood. The church never say, OK this year we need 10 cubic meters of wood, we will buy 2 cubic meters and can you please provide 8 cubic meters?’,” Aleksandar shared.
“When I heard this, I started to feel smaller, and smaller, and smaller. I went home and decided I wanted to change this.”
In 2016 Aleksandar started to build greenhouses to grow tomatoes, paprika, and cucumbers.
“It was up and down at first. Then one lady came and helped us. She’d been in the flower-growing business for 20 years. She taught us some skills, so we began growing flowers also,” Aleksandar said.
Now the business has grown. This year they have planted 7000 flower plants, 1000 tomato plants, and 1500 paprika plants. People from the community have become regular customers. Part of the profit from the business goes to funding a project of providing 700 meals per week for those in need.
“People know that if they buy from us, part of the money will go to the poor,” Aleksandar said.
“I believe that as Roma, even if we are poor, even if we are not well-educated, we have enough wisdom from the Lord to go to work and earn money, not begging money from people. The mentality ‘give me, give me, give me!’ is not a biblical way.”
“By having a business, you become self-supporting, you can be generous and you give people work.”
Aleksandar’s business now employs 12 people, half are his family members and the other half are from the community.
As for the meals project, last year they had 30% funding from sponsors while 70% was self-funded.
“I believe next year we will be 100% self-supporting for this project.”
This story is part of a series of inspiring stories we collected during our Job Creation conference in May 2022. Stay tuned for more stories to come in the series.