Around the world, people wonder how to help the people of Ukraine.
Our governments can provide arms, humanitarian aid and apply sanctions. That will help while the war is underway, but when it’s over, history tells us that these well-meant efforts will quickly fade away. Charities will lose interest and move on.
Ukrainians will face an immense challenge to rebuild their cities, infrastructure, economy, jobs, and lives. Hundreds of thousands of educated Ukrainians have been displaced live as refugees abroad or relocated inside Ukraine. For many, their old employers’ businesses are in ruins. No jobs, no income. Recovery will take years or decades.
How can we help over the long term? One answer is to hire them and give them work!
It’s eminently feasible. It’s not charity. You and I and our friends and colleagues can do it long-term … in our own self-interest. Many displaced Ukrainians have skills that can work remotely. They can help us make money … now and in the future. They can bring new ideas and energy … and they won’t cost more than we’re paying now.
If that sounds like charity with a big ROI to the giver … it is!
I’ve been hiring freelancers around the world on web markets like upWork.com and Fiverr.com for more than a decade. Not big corporate projects … little jobs that didn’t justify hiring permanent staff, but were still worth doing. I’ve run 150+ projects, hired 250+ providers and personally directed more than $500K in spend. Much of it my own money. I’ve hired webmasters, software developers, voiceover artists, eLearning authors, translators, graphics designers, virtual assistants, IoT programmers, and machine learning experts. I’ve hired from every continent. I’ve hired Ukrainians and I’ve hired Russians. Easily 90% of them have delivered what they promised. At least 50% far exceeded my expectations.
I just commissioned the graphic at the top of this post. Iryna is from Karkiv, but sheltering in central Ukraine. I will use the graphic and some related icons in a post I am planning.
What can you do?
Look around your business or your hobbies for suitable work that needs doing … ideally, small to moderate-sized jobs that are useful, but not mission-critical. You can try something more ambitious later.
Some ideas for individuals and small businesses:
- New menus for a restaurant – Find Ukraininan graphics designers with promising portfolios and commission them to develop several new menu concepts. Pick one you like or combine them.
- If you write blogs – Hire a designer to do some signature graphics so readers can spot your work at a glance.
- If your small business has an aging website – Hire a Ukrainian WordPress expert to do a refresh.
- Does your business need a stand-alone IOS or Android app – Lots of skilled developers in Ukraine can help.
- … use your imagination.
For large companies:
- If you’re John Deere, I see a tractor & tank ad campaign in your future. Even better if it is staffed by Ukrainians.
- If you’re Harvard, hire Ukrainian statisticians to mentor/help/cover for your math-challenged PhD candidates.
- If you’re Samsung, hire some Ukrainians to help re-enter markets after the war. BTW, lots of Ukrainians speak perfect Russian.
- If you’re Tesco, build some bespoke websites to jumpstart your favorite charitable initiatives.
A major corporation should be able to set aside $1M, $2M or even $5M yearly spend for the next 5 years. I guarantee you’re making worse investments now in other areas.
- When you identify work, post a job and state that Ukrainian providers need apply. Interview the applicants to make sure that they’re for real. Don’t hesitate to ask for proof that they are legitimately in Ukraine or are Ukrainian refugees.
- Try to build a modest personal relationship. Nothing intrusive, but friends work better for friends.
- Be understanding and patient. If the first draft isn’t great, talk it through and give them several chances to adapt. Sometimes it takes time to build a mutual understanding across cultures. When you do, it will often turn out to be uniquely valuable.
- Pay them well, but don’t overpay. Spread your funds to as many providers as you can manage. It’s work, not charity.
When the war is over, Ukraine will rely on its skilled citizens to redesign, rebuild and restore their society. Given their patriotism, I expect they will seize the challenge. Earning a hard currency income will help immensely. Even if it is a side hustle, it may be how they pay to rebuild their parents’ home, or pay for their child’s school supplies.
It will make a difference.