On 24 February at 4 am Eastern European Time, 190,000 Russian Soldiers further invaded Ukraine (the original Russian invasion started in 2014).
Because of warning signs of the pending invasion, our team had prepared for this by moving a lot of our staff outside Ukraine before the invasion.
We originally launched our GoFundMe campaign to help us cover the costs of evacuating our own team.
Because we had raised more money than we needed to evacuate our own team, we then started to help friends and family members also evacuate from the country.
With the extra money we had left over from our initial GoFundMe campaign, we decided to setup an entire team from our company that would help other people in Ukraine who were trying to flee to safety.
When the war started, I also decided to start broadcasting an update about the situation in Ukraine for our family, friends, and customers.
We created a YouTube Channel where we broadcast live every week called Borderlands: Stories from Ukraine.
Due to the popularity of our broadcast, and continual outpourings of support for our efforts, we decided to turn our projected into a non-profit effort.
We are forming a non-profit called the Borderlands Foundation.
The purpose of the Borderlands Foundation is to help Ukrainians who are impacted by the war as both refugees, and those stuck inside the country in the conflict zone.
We facilitate refugee movements inside and outside Ukraine, and we also help deliver life saving humanitarian supplies inside the country.
We have a Fiscal Sponsor non-profit as our Fiscal Sponsor until we receive our own 501(c)3 status which is pending.
What started as a short-term evacuation effort, has since turned into a long-term project that we are turning into a non-profit.
Our mission is to become an enduring source of support for Ukrainians both during the tragic conflict they are enduring, and afterwards, once the long hard process of rebuilding their great country begins.
The Story behind the Borderlands Foundation
Here is a short video I shot from the Kyiv main train station on February, 12 February.
Before we left, I spoke to each of my team members to help them understand the urgency and to help them work through all the questions and fears.
On February 15th, we still had 15 team members (out of 35) who were remaining behind in Kyiv or central Ukraine, as they have family members that they don’t can't leave behind who can't travel.
Before I left I spoke to each team member and warned them of the risks of the pending conflict, and helped them think through their choice of whether to stay or to leave.
We told all who decided to stay that we would evacuate them later if they needed to, but in the meantime, we encouraged them to stock up on batteries, gas, water, food and blankets.
After these tough conversations, I flew out of Ukraine with a heavy heart.
Here is the video I shot from the Borispol Airport on Sunday, 13 February explaining our situation.
Our team has helped small business owners in the US and across the world to build and grow their online businesses. Now is the time to be there for them and their families.
As we began to understand late last year that Russia was gearing up for a possible invasion of Ukraine, we started making contingency plans for this scenario.
In January, I realized that we do not have enough money to bridge the gap from evacuation to re-location, and to set ourselves up to continue our work.
The political uncertainty was also impacting our business. Our Leadership team faced tough choices and had challenging discussions on whether we should lay people off or cut the salaries of half of our team.
We decided that we would do all we could to stand by them and not leave them in the midst of a crisis. We committed to supporting them together with their families through this challenging time.
That means that we avoided layoffs to ensure the safety of our team, paying for their salaries, evacuation, and accommodation, and re-establishing them and their families.
While I was traveling back to the U.S, I got a call from a friend of mine in U.S. Army Intelligence with a warning to our team members about what was about to happen.
Unfortunately, the worst case scenario came true a week later.
Knowing this was coming, I had returned to Warsaw, Poland to be with my fiance and my team for what would be a traumatic period.
On 24 February, Russian invaded Ukraine.
The first day was full of shock, disbelief, lots of frantic conversations with team members, and some tears on all sides.
Here is a video I shot the day after the invasion started on 25 February.
When we launched this effort, our original goal was to launch a small GoFundMe campaign just to help our team relocate to safety.
But as of 26 February, we have managed to get most of our team to safety, and we are able to support those who are in the war zone and cannot work due to the demands of the conflict.
Since that time, we have learned a lot of lessons about how to get people to safety, and others have approached us about helping them get out.
Due to outpouring of support and admiration for the heroism of the Ukrainian people in this struggle, a lot of people have asked to help more.
So we are launching a site called the Borderlands Project to tell the story of the conflict and allow people to donate to help Ukrainians in need.
We have also moved 14 members of my Tech company over to a full time operation with 24/7 livechat support to help people who are in a conflict zone and need advice, or to those who have made it West and need to get to safety.
We are also helping these people relocate to safe locations in Poland or other countries. and paying for their transportation and lodging once they get there.
The money you are donating to this is designed to cover the costs of serving all those in Ukraine who need help inside the conflict zone, or those who are relocating as internal or external refugees.
The money you are donating will be dedicated towards the following:
* Food for refugees
* Temporary Lodging of refugee.
* Other Humanitarian Supplies for people inside the Conflict Zone.
* The salary staff that is helping the refugees 24/7
We will continue to publish a full table of our expenses throughout and after the completion of this fundraiser.
We have formed a legal non-profit called the Borderlands Foundation that is dedicated to the continued support of Ukrainian victims of the war.
Until we gain our own IRS approved 501(c)3 status, we will be operating with the Fiscal Sponsor the Warrior Angels Rescue non-profit that is already a 501(c)3.
We look forward to continuing to build this organization into an enduring source of support for the Ukrainian people both during the war, and once the long, hard process of rebuilding the country begins after it ends.
Founder & Executive Chairman