NGOs and tech firms join forces to help Ukraine | Business | Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 17.03.2022

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NGOs and tech firms join forces to help Ukraine

The #TechForUkraine campaign hopes to match aid groups with IT companies willing to help for free. The focus is both on the distribution of material aid and on the helping against Russian cyberattacks.

Tech To The Rescue managers

Tech to the Rescue managers are organizing help for Ukraine amid the war

Tech To The Rescue (TTTR) — a nonprofit organization based in Poland that matches NGOs needing IT support with companies willing to provide it — has now shifted its focus to Ukraine to help aid groups and assist Ukrainian IT firms in the face of Russian cyberattacks.

Founded in March 2020, TTTR was formed as a coalition of 10 Central European technology companies and since then, 250 tech companies and 300 nonprofit organizations have joined the platform. 

When the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, TTTR launched the #TechForUkraine campaign, which has to date matched 24 nonprofits with IT companies to develop digital solutions it says are aimed at overcoming the humanitarian crisis, in areas such as cybersecurity, resource distribution, secure messaging, integrated payments and data-driven decision-making. 

"Tens of thousands of people immediately joined the unprecedented wave of aid that has come from neighboring countries and around the world, saving countless lives,” said Jacek Siadkowski, co-founder and director of TTTR.

"Now this overflowing aid needs to be structured and efforts need to be coordinated and optimized. Technology is key to coordinating all humanitarian efforts. This is where TTTR comes in," he explained.

A Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen

Many nonprofits in Ukraine have already joined the #TechForUkraine campaign

A huge effort

Since the launch of the campaign, the #TechForUkraine campaign has recruited more than 450 IT companies from 40 countries willing to support NGOs pro bono and help them address high-priority digital challenges and expand their reach. 60 nonprofit organizations from Poland, Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the US have submitted projects.

Firms involved include Amazon Cloud Services, Orange, Salesforce, Allegro, Netguru and Divante.

So far, 24 projects have been matched and several have gone live, including sosua.help, a platform that collects verified offers of support for Ukrainian refugees.

"The platform was created on the initiative of people of good will who decided to join forces and create a free digital solution that will provide real help to the victims of the war in Ukraine," said Jagoda Trela ​​from ID Advisory and Alina Bieniek from Clevsoft, the project coordinator.

dopomoha.pl— which provides the only map in Ukrainian that informs users about humanitarian and medical aid — is another. 

Five to 10 new projects are matched every day, and new ones are submitted by regional NGOs, making the team work on around 45 projects simultaneously. Of particular note is the system for coordinating NGO activities created for the NGO Forum, a group of 75 organizations from Poland. A chatbot is also being developed in collaboration with the prime minister's office to help refugees find 
education for their children.

A number of nonprofits in Ukraine have already joined the #TechForUkraine campaign, calling for support from the international technology industry. They include the Ukrainian Volunteer Service (Українська Волонтерська Служба), a nonprofit organisation whose mission is to create a culture of volunteerism and mutual assistance in Ukraine to support senior citizens in need.

NGO Kamyanytsya Austria (Кам’яниця Австрія) is a local conservation organization working to preserve the architectural cultural heritage.

Technology companies globally can also join the campaign by pledging resources and employee time to work directly with Ukrainian nonprofits.

"We received a project from a Romanian NGO that wants to develop an app to help refugees stay in touch with volunteers and provide them with long term help. We are also starting a project from an international community of archivists that wants to catalog Ukraine’s immaterial cultural heritage," said Zuzanna Gutkowska, Tech To The Rescue NGO manager.

"This will be a marathon, not a sprint. Right now, we know we have a good chance of making life easier for at least two of the estimated 4 million refugees through systematic support," Siadkowski noted.

Tech To The Rescue intends to launch about 100 digital projects for nonprofits in the region within the next three months. These will support refugees at scale and effectively leverage existing resources. The ultimate goal is to provide relief to 2 million people who have already fled their homes or will soon do so.

"We are overwhelmed by the response to the #TechForUkraine campaign and are working around the clock to process all applications. Therefore, we appeal to the international IT community, startups, investors and angels to support us," said Siadkowski. "To meet the challenge, we need to increase our team and hire new people. This will help us help refugees on a large scale and assist twice as many organizations as we can now."

Man with a laptop

Some 60 nonprofit organizations from Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the US have submitted projects

Ukraine needs to adapt fast

The goals of TTTR include hiring analysts who will help NGOs define their technology needs. The foundation also wants to invest in translating resources and materials for service deliveries in local languages and hire local representatives of TTTR, who will ease access for local nonprofits.

Another goal is building a humanitarian response model that would help alleviate the suffering of millions of people in the event of another crisis.

Watch video 01:59

Ukraine, Russia face off in cyberwar

"Ukrainian organizations have to adapt their structures and action plans to the requirements of the digital world," Bogdan Maslych, head of the Ukrainian foundation GURT Resource Center, which is the campaign's partner on the Ukrainian side, told Business Insider.

"Foundations often do not have their own resources to build effective technological solutions. We need the support of professionals, because digitization is a necessity today. Without it, it is difficult to carry out aid activities and exert influence on Ukrainian society," Maslych added.

Edited by: Hardy Graupner

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