Once Artem and his wife Alina began the pattern of missing their church service to tend to their successful wedding business, they realized they needed to make a change.
“We switched to the restaurant business,” Artem says. “My wife loved [food] from an early age. She used to cook delicious meals with her grandmother. You can say that this is [an important part] of her life.”
Little did they know that switching to the restaurant business would allow them to serve more than just good food to customers. During the challenges of war, they would provide people fleeing violence with meaningful employment and nourish their hearts with God’s love.
Over the last 10 years, Artem and his wife Alina have used loans from HOPE Ukraine to open two restaurants in their community and purchase rental properties. Possessing an entrepreneurial drive, Artem says, “We don’t stand still … we’re always coming up with new ideas.”
Remaining steady to keep Ukraine’s economy strong
But on February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale attack on Ukraine, changing life dramatically for millions of Ukrainians. Despite the risk and uncertainty, Artem and Alina decided to remain in Ukraine with their two daughters, ages 7 and 11.
Artem and Alina quickly realized that a crucial part of defending their country was keeping the economy going strong.
For Artem, that meant keeping his restaurant open to provide jobs and meals. Yet, as the war continued, electricity grew unreliable; at the same time, capital became difficult to access, with some banks doubling their interest rates on business loans. But Artem says HOPE Ukraine was once again there for him: “We needed powerful, expensive, professional generators,” Artem says. “And literally in a week or two, we received a loan, and we quickly made the purchase.”
Extending the love of Christ to displaced people
Committed Christ followers, Artem and Alina have always looked for ways to use their businesses to bless others. And the war offered a new opportunity. As people fled the fighting, some left the country, but others stayed and settled in communities like Artem’s that are farther away from the front lines.
Today, Artem says that among his 24 employees, half are internally displaced people, or IDPs.
“Our priority is to provide them with work. We know that it is difficult for them in a new place. … Some came with nothing at all.”
As many qualified Ukrainian workers go abroad to look for higher-paying work, the couple chose to offer a higher salary to retain workers and keep families together. Artem adds that they collect donated clothing to share with their new neighbors and that he’s even adjusted to paying IDPs daily so they have quick, ongoing access to funds.
For Artem and Alina, their business allows them to live out their faith by loving God and others.
“We care about their lives. … I want to personally leave a good mark behind me. Not just to live life but to do something to be remembered. … Our goal is to bring joy to people!”