The small businesses that are keeping Ukraine’s economy afloat are coming together to keep money flowing in. When the Russian invasion started, Andrey Klen, the 33-year-old co-founder of design firm O0 and internet-connected laser-toy maker Petcube, and his co-founder Alex Neskin, had to relocate more than half of their 50 employees from Kyiv to western Ukraine and Europe.
Petcube, which is now a fully remote company, has been supporting its employees by paying them a full salary and donating to the Ukrainian defense. The company, along with many other Ukrainian businesses, is also earmarking monthly donations from its employee paychecks and profits.
In early April, the Spend With Ukraine campaign was launched, showcasing more than 100 Ukrainian brands from various industries, including tech, fashion, entertainment, and productivity software. The campaign’s website features brands such as security company Ajax Systems and face-swapping app Reface.
Despite half of the employees of O0 being displaced or in war, the design firm was able to launch the campaign in less than two weeks. The effort has provided a mental health boost for many employees and is being promoted as a new startup launch. The founders believe that by spending with Ukraine, people are supporting the country’s economy and helping turn it back on.
“If you spend with Ukraine, you are supporting the economy,” says Klen. “Economies win wars, and all money that goes into Ukraine will help Ukraine.”
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