How Global Freelance Platforms Support Ukrainian Freelancers

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We have seen an extraordinary influx of aid in support of Ukraine. Amid images of shattered streets and roofless buildings, the courage of Ukrainians in defending their country has energized the world. We know that it is more than difficult for all Ukrainians – including the 500,000 Ukrainians who freelance part-time or full-time via Internet-based freelance platforms – to lead “normal” lives because companies have closed, work has dried up, families are separated and men and women take up arms or take refuge in shelters. The UN refugee agency estimates that 10 million people have been displaced across Ukraine, of whom 3.4 million have fled to neighboring countries such as Poland. The UN human rights office reported that at least 902 Ukrainian civilians had been killed, although the true toll was much higher. At least 112 children had been killed.

The global freelance community came together in an impressive show of independent and coordinated support. Iman Fadaei, founder of TalentPools.io, has done an incredible job leading this effort by launching the independent non-profit platform RemoteUkraine. Outlining what his team has achieved over the past two weeks, he wrote,1,031 employers from 70 countries posted 1,185 jobs for 4,500 Ukrainian refugees, many of whom have now found work. It is a collaborative effort between technology companies and civil society. TalentPools.io provides the platform and coordinates the volunteers. Intercom provides user engagement technology. AWS provides the infrastructure. CloudFlare provides network security. GreenLight.ai and Remote provide EOR/POE service. Open-Assembly launched the promotion through its network of Open Tenant Leaders. And NGOs like RefuAid help new recruits navigate VISA accommodation and logistics.

The Freelance Voices series regularly shares the experiences and thoughts of freelancers in different countries. In this special issue, #10 of #freelancevoices, we share some of the contributions made by members of the freelance community to support their Ukrainian colleagues. For example, some of the biggest platforms have made significant contributions:

Fiverr.com, headquartered in Israel, has taken several steps to support its Ukrainian freelancers: allowing Ukrainian sellers to withdraw their earnings immediately, a dedicated support team helps Ukrainian sellers with account-related issues, to work and other needs. Fundraising for World Central Kitchen, to help feed people fleeing to neighboring countries, and building a special Fiverr store with Ukrainian sellers, and providing direct financial support to Ukrainian freelancers to help offset the cost potential business lost.

Andela, a global platform headquartered in the United States, is creating a database of resources for refugees to find a project or job. The platform also donates to a connectivity fund to help Ukrainians and refugees replace lost or broken technology, providing financial support for talent through signing bonuses and covering refugees’ first month’s salary. tech freelancers who are hired. The platform has also partnered with Remote.com for visa and immigration assistance (which waives their fees for all refugee hires) and provides payment assistance to paid-only customers who need aid to pay the refugees. They will also offer payment in crypto, which is useful right now.

Upwork has unveiled a way to send a donation to Ukraine-based freelancers via the Project Catalog – purchase a project and the funds will be sent directly to them, with no freelancer fees and no labor required. The product’s new features can also help Ukraine-based talent preserve their hard-earned reputations, access funds faster, and communicate with clients about their security and professional status. Finally, we donated $1 million to Direct Relief International to support the people of Ukraine.

Appjobs.com, a large Swedish platform focused on helping freelancers and especially refugees. They created Ukrainian versions of all content and user feeds for products in neighboring countries, for example Poland. They have also produced start-up guides in Ukrainian to enable freelancers to start outside Ukraine (registrations, licenses, taxes) and released a tax calculator feature to help Ukrainians understand their net income outside of Ukraine.

In addition to large platforms, regional and smaller platforms, startups and even ecosystem partners participate:

Torc in the United States, a new freelance marketplace, reports that it has already identified hundreds of jobs available for Ukrainian freelancers and is providing assistance to Ukrainian companies that need to hire top tech talent. Torc has partnered with a Ukrainian software development education/training organization to provide their platform with ongoing opportunities for skill development and career growth.

Vicoland.com, a growing German platform in the United States, worked closely with teams of Ukrainian freelancers to help them find accommodation in Hungary. Additionally, they work with groups of freelancers (“Vicos”) in our market to help NGOs maximize their impact in the ongoing war through the #techforukraine initiative.

Proteams.com in Denmark, a smaller regional tech platform focused on corporate clients, noted that although their number was lower than that of large multinational platforms, they had organized more than $66,000 in jobs for Ukrainian independents since the occupation.

GreenLight.ai in the US has opened up its infrastructure to allow companies to easily onboard and pay Ukrainian professionals, and they are waiving fees. Companies can invite Ukrainian freelancers to register on GreenLight, and they will get them registered and ready to work and get paid! They will provide legal, tax, time and payment management, facilitating the hiring of international talent and guaranteeing the protection of the company.

Outvise.com in Spain, a leading regional technology platform, organized a food drive and fundraiser led by the platform and coordinated with a Ukrainian NGO in Barcelona called “Smiles of Ukraine” authorized by the Consulate General of Ukraine. Donations are processed by the authority and the food is delivered to Poland and from there sent to Western Ukraine (mainly L’viv) where it is distributed to people in need when possible. All colleagues and collaborators actively supported and participated, some buying food directly and others donating money to buy it. So far we’ve had 2 rounds of donations (2 cars or so) and we’re planning to run a big baby food buy this week as well.

Expertpowerhouse.com in Germany reports an active program to support freelancers in Ukraine and the region, starting with being part of “imagine-ukraine.org”, offering projects and job opportunities and mentoring the refugees. In addition, we supported a great initiative by one of our independent consultants to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

UnderPinned.com, a British independent community, has donated free membership to its independent accelerator program for war refugees from Ukraine. UnderPinned is a community of 50,000 part-time and full-time freelancers, and membership provides the tools and connections freelancers need to safeguard their livelihoods during these uncertain times.

Finally, the Brackets Club, a donation-based non-profit organization dedicated to the freelance community, puts money into the hands of freelancers in Ukraine: helping them get train tickets out of the country, providing basic supplies and sharing connections for success. Its aim is to help the self-employed and their families who cannot afford health care or insurance.

This group of platforms and ecosystem partners – large and small – is just part of the momentum supporting the Ukrainian freelance community. The startup culture was made for this moment and freelancers like Iman Fadaei are leading the way. John Healy, who runs the Center for Work Transformation (CTW), an organization that has worked closely with RemoteUkraine.org and many platforms to organize and coordinate support for Ukrainian freelancers put it this way: “It is impressive how quickly and sincerely the freelance community has come together to support Ukrainian colleagues and their families. The individuals and organization in our community at CTW show what can be achieved when the entrepreneurial spirit of the open talent economy is combined with modern technology and a common goal to positively impact the life of the freelance community. And we’ve only just begun.

Long live the revolution!

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