Ukraine: Amsterdam tech founders launch initiative to help people reach safety
The heads of Picnic, MessageBird and bunq have founded the People for People foundation to help as many Ukrainian and Russian people as possible to find shelter.
Founders unite to help refugees
Founders of Amsterdam companies bunq, Picnic and MessageBird have together launched an initiative to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine to reach safety.
Robert Vis of messaging platform MessageBird, Ali Niknam of online bank bunq and Joris Beckers of online supermarket Picnic launched People for People. It is supported by the former CFO of Leiden-based TransIP, Pieter Jan van Krevel.
Ukrainian and Russian people may reach out for help through the platform, and those who can help can register their support.
The initiative started following a LinkedIn post from Niknam, who drew on his experience growing up during the Iran-Iraq war. He said: “It breaks my heart to think that we might be at the start of similar suffering on a grand scale. And I cannot look the other way.”
He initially planned to help people reach the Netherlands via Hungary and Bulgaria through HSM visas. Since then, the EU has decided to grant Ukrainian people a three-year visa that will allow them to reside and work in the EU. People for People will continue to connect those who need help to find shelter.
Leveraging tech capabilities
At the same time, MessageBird’s Vis announced a $10m NGO fund – messagebird.org – which will invest in innovative peacekeeping initiatives and provide a platform to coordinate humanitarian efforts from the global tech community.
Vis said: “As someone born in Europe, I feel it is my duty to speak up publicly about a war unfolding at its borders and to show support for peace. To me, I have a responsibility as part of a new generation of technology founders and CEOs to speak up and make my voice heard. We all must leverage our influence and our technology capabilities to promote global peace and make it clear that we live in a world where consequences come from such actions.”
MessageBird has a hub in Ukraine and has provided help to its employees based there by means of safe housing and transportation.
MessageBird also announced it will block its services to Russian customers.