The Ukrainian Spirit
One year has passed since war broke out in Ukraine and many things have changed in that time. Uncertainties overrun each waking day with a seemingly endless flood of questions; Will there be electricity today? Running water? Is it safe to walk the dog right now?
Yet, amid the chaos of war, life still marches for the people of Ukraine. Restaurants still open their doors to hungry patrons, people continue to find moments of joy among friends and family, and others even manage to foster new hobbies to distract from certain realities too emotionally draining to face around the clock.
Despite thousands of civilian deaths, millions of refugees, and extensive infrastructure damage, our commitment to Ukraine has not faltered in the past year. As the company behind a series of vital services operating in Ukraine, we caught up with couriers Yuri Huzenko, Oleksiy Kalinichenko, Galyna Litosh Foodz Ukraine CEO, and Yulia Prykhodko Smile Heat Founder 8 months on to hear about how their home has changed since we last spoke.
The New Normal
Galyna Litosh, CEO of Foodz Ukraine, a chain of cookrooms operating in Kyiv and Dnipro, mentions that her concept of norms and normality in her life have been significantly transformed in the span of a year.
“Previously, it was normal to plan a vacation six months in advance, buying tickets and booking hotels, to be sure that all this will happen. Planning for more than a week just does not exist in my life right now. What remains stable in our life is getting up in the morning and going to do our job effectively. This is the least that each of us can do now so that the new reality we’re talking about is being changed for the better.
In my opinion, no one wants your business to disappear, fall apart, go bankrupt – if the company has already survived during the first year of the war, then all partners are looking for an opportunity to stay together in the future, jointly moving on from the difficult situations anyone could find themselves in.”
For courier Oleksiy Kalinichenko, the effect he can have on his fellow countrymen has been a major driving force for him over the course of the past year. Oleksiy goes on to say that, “from the beginning, I felt how useful I was to people who needed help. During this period, I realized that it is simply necessary to do my job. Everyday, I make deliveries and meet customers who just need help. These are many of our defenders with injuries, these are families with small children who are waiting for their dad to return from the frontlines.
It is for these people that delivery makes life easier and makes it a little more comfortable. During this time I realized that I cannot leave them, so for me, today, it is not just a job, but is my big contribution to ensure that my people can still live a comfortable life.
Oleksiy on the job
Work became completely different. I perform my duties conscientiously, like before, but today everything is different. Now there is more communication with clients and need for support, many of them have become permanent and good acquaintances. I often bring grocery orders to one grandmother, she is alone in the city, but her children order her groceries. She is very lonely, so I can always spare a few minutes for a conversation. During this time, we became very close, so even on my day off I come to help around the apartment and repair various appliances. I believe that this time unites us.”
The Ukrainian Spirit
For Yulia Prykhodko, Founder of NGO Smile Heat, “the Ukrainian spirit is what gives strength to get up and go to work every morning. It gives us the energy to do things efficiently and with dedication. To help others, to do good and useful things, and to take care of one’s children and parents. It is a motivator to move on, into the future, through months of war, fear, and excruciating pain. We knew how to live in peacetime, but now our spirit, self-respect, and love for our country and compatriots give us the strength to live with dignity and act effectively in wartime and in extremely stressful conditions.”
Smile Heat Ukraine with a much needed food delivery for vulnerable people
For many couriers, the ability to connect with and assist others has given them strength. Despite a lack of security when thinking about the future, courier Yurii Huzenko says that he “… used to dream a lot and comfort myself with thoughts about the example of who I will be in 10 years, and who I see myself as. Now there is no such thing, to be honest – I want to learn to see what I have. And to feel like the richest person, being able to communicate with your people every day, just walking around Kyiv and discovering new places for yourself.
Since the time of large-scale evacuation, lack of products in supermarkets, and continuous roadblocks, watching how businesses resumed their work and opened new ones – the joy of feeling alive in a living city. The admiration that despite everything, our people are full of ideas and energy for their implementation.
It feels like every day is a story. Every conversation I have and every order I deliver – just my daily life, remaining who I am – this is probably my daily small victory.”
Ukraine has been among Glovo’s top markets – and pre-war, Glovo was operating in 39 cities and more than 5,000 couriers delivered with our app. We also opened our Tech Hub in Kyiv in 2021, making Ukraine’s capital one of the centers for innovation at Glovo.
Following the start of the war, we re-opened our platform in March 2022 to make essential services available in Ukraine as we resumed operations in the country in order to provide essential services in 35 cities. Our objective has been to provide humanitarian support and offer essential logistics to those in need as we saw an increased demand for vital services to residents and NGOs that are unable to access food, medicine and urgent basic goods.
Amidst work with other NGOS and projects, we’ve worked alongside Smile Heat and Founder, Yulia Prykhodko to improve the situation for vulnerable people across Ukraine. Together in 2022, we’ve implemented a number of volunteer projects and helped more than 300 displaced families and hundreds of Ukrainian troops. Thanks to our partnership, people who asked for help were provided with food, medicines, personal hygiene products, and basic necessities.
Necessities delivered to an elderly woman by Smile Heat
Things have changed a lot in the past year and for Yulia and Smile Heat, she mentions that “the number of our wards has increased significantly, and our capabilities and range of services have also expanded. Today, we are able not only to provide people with food, personal hygiene products and clothes, but also to organize master classes, give gifts to children for the holidays, and do joint projects. At the end of 2022, together with Glovo, we gave the children of the modular town in Bucha the gifts they dreamed of. For them, it was a real fairy tale that brought them back to their carefree childhood and distracted them from the terrible war.”
Keeping true to our vision ‘To give everyone easy access to anything in their city’ we have built a tech platform for NGOs to use our delivery services for free, helping them to carry out their everyday tasks while promoting digital transformation in the third sector. This programme, known as Glovo Access, is key to the response we provide in the context of the Ukraine war. Since the start of the war, we have delivered 113,638 social meals and saved 53,670kg of food via this program.
With the war entering its second year, amid infrastructure damage, loss of life, an unwanted new normal, one thing remains – the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people. While we cannot predict the future, our commitment to cities, businesses, and people will remain strong no matter what.
Across our entire ecosystem, from Glovo staff and offices to those whose lives have been upturned due to war, our goal is to help and support those in need. Over the past year, we have stopped thinking of Glovo as a business. This is where we can make a difference for people, and truly fulfill our vision. If we have helped to make the life of even one person better, then we have succeeded.
Slava Ukraini! 💙💛
Read more as our colleague Sophia shares her personal story and journey since the outbreak of the war.