Working diligently inside heated greenhouses built with USAID assistance, Pleurat Buçaj hustles to fill orders pouring in from all quarters.
There are petunias for export to Italy, and cyclamens for Serbia. And for the Kosovo market, Buçaj readies thousands of geraniums, propagated from cuttings, for sale through local supermarkets and flower stands. Imported ficus, palms and other ornamental plants account for a third of his fledgling business.
Bucaj, 31, learned the nursery trade working alongside his uncle. In September 2012, he leveraged his experience, work ethic and passion to begin his own nursery, Lulishtja Labi. Named for a favorite nephew, the nursery lies along a busy road just outside Pristina.
USAID, through its Young Entrepreneurs Program, which ran from September 2010 through September 2013, helped Buçaj craft the business plan that has guided his nursery’s successful launch. It also contributed $6,800 (5,000 Euros) toward the $55,000 (40,000 Euros) cost of erecting twin greenhouses and installing heating, lighting and other infrastructure.
“USAID's support really came at just the right time,” Buçaj says. “Sales have more than exceeded my projections.”
Indeed, in early 2013, the nursery was already profitable, with 12 full-time workers. Buçaj is generating more than just sales—he’s creating jobs, too. During the summer, Buçaj hired another 40 part-time employees to help meet the demand.
Meanwhile, Buçaj has snapped up more land to expand his operations. He plans to add four more greenhouses, as well as convert another greenhouse, now used to grow spinach and other vegetables, to flower production.
“Today, all the market does is grow,’’ Buçaj says.
Just five years ago, Buçaj says Kosovo didn’t have much of a nursery industry. Now, thanks to USAID’s assistance tailored to help young enterpreneurs to strengthen skills and improve their business performance, Bucaj is exporting to nearby countries.
Last updated: January 31, 2014