Berlin, Düsseldorf When Gustavo Ivanaga saw the pictures of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the morning of February 24 in the news, it was immediately clear to him that he wanted to help the people on the ground. The IT specialist, who works as a project manager at Google in Munich, uses the first days after the start of the war for research. His observation: Numerous organizations and companies are mobilizing aid for people on the ground and on the run.
The problem: “Apparently no one has an overview of where exactly what is needed and who has organized which aid,” says Iwanaga. He wants to change this with a software solution.
Many entrepreneurs are currently setting up social start-ups to combat the current crises, observes Karin Kreutzer, Professor of Social Business at EBS Universität in Wiesbaden. The war in Ukraine is the most recent example. “But the corona pandemic or climate change are also causing people to rethink,” Kreutzer explains. “These developments contribute to the fact that social entrepreneurial business models are becoming more attractive and that they are in demand as partners to combat the crises.“
Iwanaga’s idea is also well received worldwide. More than a thousand interested users registered on LinkedIn. They come from a wide variety of industries and from over 70 different countries – people from Ukraine are also there.
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In the meantime, Iwanaga has taken a break from Google and is dedicated to the crisis project around the clock. Together with the team, which calls itself “Ukraine Global Taskforce”, he has developed a software that collects information from people in Ukraine and makes it available to helping people.
The Google project manager has taken a break and is dedicated to his crisis project around the clock.
(Photo: Ukraine Global Task Force)
People, some of whom are hiding in basements and bunkers, indicate in an app where they are and what they need. The requests come together in a central overview map, which the team makes available to aid organizations. This enables a quick overview and better coordination of the relief transports. Feedback from the helpers should also be possible soon. So if an initiative agrees to accept a request, it disappears from the map.
The app has been online since last Friday. Since then, 3,000 Ukrainians have asked for help, asking for medicines, batteries, blankets or food, among other things. Now the developers are dependent on as many local people as possible to find out about the app and trust the taskforce. In order to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands, the information will only be made available to support initiatives that have registered and verified in advance.
Job platforms for refugees
Data security is also important to Marcus Diekmann. The e-commerce expert is managing director of a subsidiary of the textile chain Peek & Cloppenburg and sits on the advisory board of the bicycle retailer Rose Bikes. Together with the digital companies Business-on.de, Minubo, Vow to the New and Shopware he has under jobaidukraine.com a job placement portal for Ukrainian refugees has been set up.
The idea was brought to him by his former au pair Paulina, who lives in Ukraine, he reports. On several occasions he tried to persuade her to flee to Germany. Again and again she refused on the grounds that she did not have a job on the spot.
The platform has been online since March 9, and 10,000 jobs are currently being offered across Europe. Among them are also offers for remote work. In this way, people who are currently still in Ukraine should be able to work for neighboring European countries. The website receives 30,000 visitors per day. About a thousand jobs have already been placed in total, Diekmann estimates. Paulina, who has now arrived safely in Germany, has also found a job through this.
The e-commerce expert is managing director of a P&C subsidiary and sits on the advisory board of the bicycle retailer Rose Bikes.
In particular, the IT, nursing, retail, catering and craft industries would be happy about new employees. “We do not distribute alms, the people from Ukraine are urgently needed here,” says Diekmann with regard to the shortage of skilled workers in Germany.
Jobs from Flixbus, Zalando and Intel
The entrepreneur is not alone with the idea of a job platform. Ukrainians Ivan Kychatyi and Nikita Overchyk, who have been living in Berlin for several years, also want to provide refugees with a new job in their new homeland as soon as possible. Supported by Meta and Axel Springer, they launched “UA Talents” within a few days.
The Ukrainian founder wants to get people from his homeland a new job as soon as possible.
(Photo: UA Talents)
“Many users appreciate that our platform is from Ukrainians for Ukrainians,” says Kychatyi. Companies that advertise there knew that the applicants needed a job quickly, and wanted to help the refugees directly.
On March 7, the website went online. UA Talents is aimed not only at Ukrainians who have fled to other European countries, but also at internally displaced persons. More than 8000 vacant jobs from 3000 companies are listed, including offers from Flixbus, Zalando or Intel. “We started with technology jobs because many Ukrainians have good IT skills and tech companies make quick decisions,” says Overchyk. However, the founders want to expand the offer to other industries soon.
UA Talents works with a core team of seven members, the start-up has a total of 30 voluntary supporters. How many jobs the founders have arranged, you can not say yet. Only this much: The platform had 400,000 visitors in the first 15 days, mainly from Germany, Ukraine, Poland and the Netherlands. The founders say: “We hardly have time to reflect on the terrible situation in Ukraine, we work 18 hours a day and want to help.“
With the help of 30 volunteers, Overchyk works at UA Talents.
(Photo: UA Talents)
Jobaidukraine also wants to further expand its offer. In addition, there will be the provision of housing and training, for example. In the future, the platform should also no longer be limited to Ukrainian refugees. The association wants to take care of “all refugees who want to gain a foothold in Europe”. Initiator Marcus Diekmann expects that the current challenges will reappear in the future – and perhaps even more often with regard to the ongoing climate crisis.
The founders of Ukraine Global Task Force are also planning for the long term. The initiative has recently registered an NGO with the name “Stronger Global Taskforce”. The fact that Ukraine does not appear in the name is intended to make it clear that its technological solution can also be transferred to the next crisis.
More: How does Ukraine come to peace? “There is a way out of this spiral of aggression”