CEO doing business and volunteer work in Ukraine

This spring break, my family and I are not packing swimsuits for our usual Hawaii vacation. Instead, we stock suitcases with medical and security supplies Help our 258 Ukrainian JustAnswer colleagues and the people of Ukraine.

Why would I bring my wife and three children to the edge of a war zone? After living in Ukraine in 2019, we all made deep friendships there, so the five of us couldn’t bear to have a “fun” spring break vacation while our Ukrainian colleagues, friends and the people of Ukraine suffer. Instead, we will spend spring break helping the people of Ukraine and inculcating in our children the value of helping others in need.

We have three main goals for our trip:

  1. To bring medical and other relief supplies to our team and the people of Ukraine
  2. To help the refugees on the Ukrainian border
  3. Support and promotion of Ukrainian economy

We bring medical supplies such as trauma/bleeding kits with tourniquets and quickclot technology to help critically injured men, women and children. These supplies are sold out or scarce everywhere in Europe. We will be distributing these trauma kits through one of our staff, a medic who has been on the front lines since day one of the war. We also bring diabetes supplies for diabetics who are running out of insulin. We’re going to help a person go from old school insulin shots to an artificial pancreas with AI like my daughter has.

We also bring over 100 handwritten notes from US school children to refugee children. We also pack other safety gear for our employees fighting in the war like drones, night vision goggles and body armor to keep them safe.

After the war began, many companies issued statements of support to Ukraine and condemned President Vladimir Putin, and a growing number ceased operations in or with Russia. These are important and a good place to start, but sometimes the greatest moments of need come after the popular sloganeering has died down. There’s still so much to do right now. It’s a bit like having a baby: everyone rushes to the hospital with gifts and babysitting promises, but two weeks later it’s just you and your partner delivering a colicky baby in the middle of the night.

In addition to these humanitarian goals, I have another important goal for this mission. As the leader of a company that has thrived over the last decade thanks in part to our talented Ukrainian team, I also want to spread a message. This war is about bombs and tanks, but also about deals and sanctions. Through my visit, I hope to encourage other business leaders not only to boycott Russia, but to buy Ukrainian goods and services. That means hiring Ukrainian people and spending money on the Ukrainian economy. My company, JustAnswer, is committed to staying in Ukraine and growing in Ukraine. And since the war began, we’ve hired six new employees in Ukraine and plan to hire dozens more this year, while most of the market is doing the opposite. The number of job vacancies in Ukraine has plummeted since the war began, while the number of applicants has risen.

It is a critical time for all US companies — particularly the tech sector, which has so successfully harnessed Ukraine’s IT and engineering talent — to take meaningful action to provide Ukraine with the support it truly needs today. Here’s what I recommend.

Focus on the safety and well-being of your Ukrainian team first.

This means thinking creatively and also listening to actual needs, which may be different than what you expect. For example, we bring bleeding kits specially on request one of our employees who has served as a medic at the front since the first war. And when we asked about other protective gear, we learned that the standard issue for those going into battle is pretty minor. So we researched how to get body armor that we can buy and carry in our suitcases.

Get creative with ways monetary Support your Ukrainian team.

We originally offered to advance our employees’ paychecks so they would have money sooner. But our staff told us they wanted us to hold their payments in US dollars in US bank accounts for the time being, which provides deflation protection and is more secure in the event their banks suffer cyberattacks from Russian hackers or other service disruptions.

JustAnswer and our employees pay our taxes upfront to support the government and our bills upfront to support the economy. We also pay our personnel who have been drafted into combat or enlisted as volunteers (in addition to the military salaries they receive). While most of Ukraine’s economy is faltering, the IT sector is trying to keep the economy running, but they need our help.

Support companies helping Ukraine with deeds and words.

If you are a company then Hire more Ukrainians either directly or through one of the freelance or consulting platforms like Upwork. You may also find help and recommendations from local trade organizations such as Lviv IT clustera Community of IT companies, government and educational institutions promoting the tech sector in Ukraine.

I hope that from this spring break trip, my own children – and many of my business colleagues – will lead by example and contribute with empathy in support of humanity, democracy and economic opportunity. Because this is precisely the moment when US companies and in particular the technology sector can and should step up, get creative and go beyond promises and promises.

Andy Kurtzig is the founder and CEO of just answer a platform that connects people with experts such as doctors, accountants, lawyers and veterinarians for instant online help. CEO doing business and volunteer work in Ukraine


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