Softjourn

TechCrunch+: 3 things you can do right now to support Ukraine’s IT sector

Emmy is the CEO of Softjourn, a global technology services provider with offices in California, Ukraine and Poland. A tech professional and investor, Emmy has lived and worked in Ukraine for more than 25 years.

This article first published in TechCrunch+ on April 1, 2022 at the following link: https://techcrunch.com/2022/04/01/3-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-support-ukraines-it-sector/

“The calls and texts started early, asking for power supplies and tools for fixing engines,” said Katia Ryzha, who lives and works in Ivano-Frankivsk, a small city in Western Ukraine.

Since the war began, Ukrainian soldiers at the front line have requested tools and other hard-to-find items from their friends and colleagues around the country. “Our team coordinated scavenging garages, basements, and tool sheds, as most of these supplies are hard or impossible to find now in Ukraine,” Katia shared.

Katia is the head of the projects and delivery management department of U.S.-based tech company, Softjourn, which has an R&D office and many employees in Western Ukraine. Although we were shocked when the war began, our team managed to unite efforts and organize support to guarantee the safety of our colleagues and their families.

Our team, along with the greater tech community in Ukraine, has been united in helping the war efforts. This includes joining Ukraine’s IT army, planning trips to resupply soldiers on the front lines, and donating money and military gear to the army.

Katia says that while volunteering is important for the war efforts, it is even more critical to fight on the economic front.

Sergiy Fitsak, co-founder and managing director of Softjourn, said, “By working, we’re helping fuel the war effort. Each dollar we earn helps strengthen the Ukrainian economy at a time when it’s critically needed to fund military efforts, provide humanitarian relief to those most affected, protect our communities, and feed and care for our families and neighbors.

For Katia and many of our colleagues living in Ukraine, working has become an act of resistance. In a similar vein, when companies choose to purchase licenses for products built in the country, or to work with consulting companies that may have part or all of their teams there, they nurture the economy, which safeguards the future of Ukraine.

As members of the global tech community, we are uniquely positioned to help at this critical juncture. Here are three ways you can pitch in:

#1: Continue looking to Ukraine for your IT/tech solutions

Prior to the war, Ukraine was home to a $6.8 billion tech industry, according to the IT Ukraine Association. While some companies have had to close or temporarily suspend operations, many are still working and even growing.

Softjourn, like many other tech companies in Ukraine, has had contingency plans in place since 2014 to ensure that a Russian invasion wouldn’t stop our progress. We are not stopping our expansion in Ukraine, both in terms of hiring and gaining expertise.

How to help:

  • The best way to support tech companies building high quality products in Ukraine, is for YOU, the tech companies outside of Ukraine, to continue doing business with your partner companies in Ukraine.
  • If your company has been looking to companies which have team members in Ukraine for solutions to your business and technology problems, keep those partnerships. Continuing to support them through your business not only helps keep morale high, it provides a critical injection of capital into the country at a time when it is so needed.
  • If you’re a startup founder that hasn’t yet fully defined, architected or designed your solution yet, working with a partner that has architects in Ukraine or bringing on an interim VP of Engineering or interim CTO in Ukraine may not be something you would think about doing now. But why not? Many consulting firms that have operations in Ukraine are global companies. They are prepared to help their clients mitigate the risks and you would be supporting Ukraine and the continued expansion of the tech community there.

#2: Purchase or license Ukrainian products and services

Ukraine’s IT sector excels in multiple industries. Fintech, banking, and ecommerce lead the country’s IT exports, but the country’s tech companies are also known for their services for the transportation, logistics, healthcare, education, retail and entertainment sectors, according to the 2021 Ukraine IT report.

How to help:

  • You may already be using the services or products of a company with roots in Ukraine and not know it, such as Grammarly, GitLab, Ajax, People.ai., and more. If you are, continue working with them and spread the word to your colleagues.
  • Many consulting companies and service providers specialize in specific domains and license products to solve particular problems in those specific industries. Consider looking to Ukrainian partners for solutions that include licensing their products.
  • Ukraine’s tech force produces world-class products, so you’ll be not only supporting Ukraine, but making a smart business decision.

#3: Amplify awareness of Ukraine’s vital tech sector 

Ukraine is one of the largest exporters of IT services in Europe. Before this war began, the world was less aware of Ukraine’s position as a leading tech hub in Europe, and increasingly, the world. We can promote Ukraine’s role as a leader in tech to help the country now and in the months and years ahead.

How to help:

  • If you do business with a company that has operations in Ukraine as well, share it with pride. Add a badge to your website or products that says “Support Ukraine Tech.”
  • Give companies staying and working in Ukraine, or who have Ukrainian research and development teams, a positive review on social media and Google. Recommend their services to others you know to ensure their longevity during these difficult times.
  • Share stories of how your partner company’s tech workforce is open for business, refusing to surrender, and defiant against this illegal invasion.

Ukraine continues to develop software and IT products for businesses and consumers around the world, which brings in resources to support the military effort, humanitarian aid, and lets companies care for their employees’ family, friends and communities.

Ukraine and many firms working in the country have spent decades building industry and technical expertise, and this will not be destroyed by the war with Russia. The tech community has a unique opportunity to help Ukraine’s fight on the economic front