8 грудня, 2022

Nina LEVCHUK: «Since the war has been already going on for 8 years, it is very important to think about how we will later rebuild the country and restore the economy, build new modern opportunities in the country, provide these opportunities»

16 листопада 2022
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My life before the war and my activity today 

I have been working in tech sphere at Google company for ten years. I have founded Women Digital Academy by Google, which has helped more than 50,000 women from Ukraine get a free online education. I have also worked with gender issues in IT: I am an activist in the field of supporting women in technologies Stem is Fem and a co-founder of Femtech Academy in Europe.

Recently, I have been developing startups and partnering with venture capital funds in Europe. Before the war, I organized many initiatives that supported Ukrainian women and men in 

Since the beginning of the war, I, as a co-founder, have established several international volunteer organizations that have different goals, but are primarily aimed at supporting Ukraine. One of them is United for Ukraine, a platform that provides important information and facilitates access to basic services for people affected by the war in Ukraine. The second is UA Tech Circle, an association of business angels, venture investors, IT entrepreneurs and technology professionals who will help Ukrainian technology projects and startups suffering from the consequences of the Russian invasion of the country. I have also joined the NGO Impact Force as a co-founder. The mission of this NGO is to change social behavior and business practices to achieve socially impactful and lasting results.

Supporting startups during the war

The war has divided my life, like the life of every Ukrainian, into "before" and "after". As for every Ukrainian, this is a completely personal story. This personal story, personal motivation underlies all initiatives.

I sincerely believe that Ukraine is now fighting for freedom for the whole world, for free democratic concepts, for our world to be free and to peaceful. Yes, our fate is very difficult, but I am 100% sure of our victory and that Ukraine will truly become an example and the heart of democratic power in the world.

As for me personally, at the beginning of the war I was not in Ukraine, because I have been living in Europe for more than ten years, but my parents, my relatives, my friends, my family - they were all in Ukraine. When it all started, the women and their children left, my mother fled with her two goddaughters abroad.

I helped many friends leave dangerous areas. It made it possible for me to be in touch with everyone and to support them. And what people faced: long queues, absolute confusion, not knowing what to do next, and what I heard from the volunteers who stood at the border (in particular, that many women ended up in sexual slavery or in very bad situations with children) — all this, of course, prompted the creation of United for Ukraine.

United for Ukraine provides basic assistance with the support of Google in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. And in the summer, the idea appeared to help startups and Ukrainian entrepreneurs. This is how the UA Tech Circle was created. Its main purpose is to help entrepreneurs find investments, and freelancers find work in international startups, while remaining in Ukraine.

Since the war has been already going on for 8 years, it is very important to think about how we will later rebuild the country and restore the economy, build new modern opportunities in the country, provide these opportunities. For this reason, I have joined Impact Force, which purpose and main focus is to restore Ukraine by building a modern social economy and supporting the development of the most "damaged" areas of the economy through cooperation with the largest technology companies, politicians, opinion leaders, the government, etc.

Sharing experience and knowledge

All my activities are aimed at providing the most necessary assistance to support one of the main sectors that continues to generate income for the economy - the IT sector of Ukraine. As well as to develop new opportunities for all Ukrainians, to help the economy of Ukraine in the future, to restore and build a democratic and modern society.

We have faced the fact that the majority of women were displaced, often outside of Ukraine. But they can help Ukraine from abroad. They have the opportunity to gain new knowledge, new experience, create a network - and with all this, in the future, they will return to Ukraine and help in its reconstruction. I see this as the main role of every Ukrainian woman — to share her knowledge. While our men are protecting us and leading us to a confident victory, we have tried our best to create a foundation. So that there is something to rebuild this country on — and to accumulate experience as much as possible, overcome all difficulties, support the country's economy, and later, upon returning, bring all this experience here and create a new modern, innovative society. There are also women who remain in the country. They also play a very important role. There are a lot of women at the front as well. It would be very stereotypical to say that only men defend our country, because a huge number of women do the same. And they, of course, are, like men, heroes of Ukraine.

Many women stay to support their businesses, their families. Many women continue to work to support the country. Many women have become volunteers. In general, women are everywhere - and each one of them plays an important role, in the country or abroad. Even if she does not volunteer or defend the country at the front, she protects her family, and this is already a great help to the country. Each of us has his or her own purpose and focus. And the most important thing is that we support our country with belief and example of courage. This is the role of an Ukrainian woman.

Comprehensive program for economy recovery

As I see it, many women - both those who had to leave the country for the safety of their families and those who stayed - had to retrain because many industries closed. Women had to relearn. Many of them went into IT, where it is easier and faster to acquire basic skills and find a job. This is all an invaluable experience. And the future is precisely in all this experience brought back, it will become part of Ukrainian society and will give us a huge boost in the future development of both our economy and its innovative component.

Talking directly about our plans, it is to find in every initiative that I mentioned an opportunity to support women and men through entrepreneurship, through technology, to give them the opportunity to implement their ideas for the renewal of Ukraine and various spheres of Ukraine. For example, agriculture, energy, cyber security, meaning information protection, etc. It's about giving people access to free resources from high tech companies. It is to support through mentoring and through various upskilling programs and help with access to investments. After all, it is important that ideas turn into businesses and that they are reliable and sustainable, that they will develop our country and bring profit. But the most important part is that this money will be partially reinvested in the economy of Ukraine. And one of the big dreams is to help all people with ideas on how to properly restore these sectors, giving them access to innovation and other people who have experience in these areas and can support them as mentors. To give people with ideas access to finance and the right network. To support certain reforms at the state level.

This is a comprehensive program, which later should not only help to restore economic sectors, but also ensure that every entrepreneur has not only a vision of how to make money and help a certain area, but also how to do it sustainably and reinvest a part of his income and help the development of Ukraine in future. It is about the correct and reliable sustainable cycle of existence and coexistence between the state and entrepreneurship. That is, we are moving from the concept of "I am creating a business" to a successful business where I pay taxes, but we take a step further: how what I do and what makes me profit, how a part of my income can further help the development of other people in the country and the country itself, and how I can invest in various developments, research, in supporting the economy, create a social economy concept.

16 листопада 2022
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