Over the last year, thousands of schools, pre-schools and other educational facilities in Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed due to the use of explosive weapons in the war, including in populated areas. But it impacts not only school students but also adult learners, many of whom were already disrupted due to the last two years of COVID-19.
I spoke to Roman Apostol, CEO and co-founder of Mate academy to find out how you run a coding school during wartime.
Mate academy is an Edtech startup that provides pre-employment education, teaching people to code from scratch and completely for free, taking money only after they get employment
He told me that despite the challenges of working from bomb shelters, the company was determined to grow and help people get new jobs in tech.
Ukrainian career building
As an edtech company, Mate academy is helping to solve problems with UA tech labour market fulfilment and the unemployment crisis. It provides the necessary knowledge and basic practice skills and supports people during all employment stages of building careers in tech.
"This is significant as millions of people left their homes and lost their jobs, so tech is one of the promising options for starting a new career from scratch in Ukraine. The number of people willing to enter tech grew x2 compared to pre-war times.
"Our mission is to create all the necessary conditions so that capable Ukrainians can receive the necessary resources to reach their full potential. We believe that the more educated and talented specialists there are in the country, the faster positive societal changes will occur. Therefore, we want to create a modern alternative to education and train thousands, and eventually tens of thousands of people a year."
DIgital-first becomes a new challenge
Apostol told me that since mid-October 2022, the country has had to deal with scheduled power outages. In particular, this also affected Mate academy. But the company adapted:
"Firstly, we prioritised ensuring the team's safety, heating, electricity, water, and internet. Organising everything and creating a "plan B" in case of emergency needed three weeks."
The company also had to invest in the long term.
Apostol admits that "it is not cheap to buy the power generator, set up an autonomous water system, have a plan b/c/d/e with the internet or cover other expenses, but we look at this in retrospect and know for sure that it is an investment in capacity for our growth."
Despite this, the company has also donated $230,000 to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and humanitarian support.
Scaling country by country
Mate academy became more robust over the last year by building distribution in other geographies, and opened a separate representative office in Poland.
Apostol shared, "Even without the possibility for men to visit abroad due to war restrictions, we did it online, using a scalable model' country by country'. And we are not going to stop there with international expansion. Soon we plan to open Mate academy in other geographies – most likely the UK and Romania."
This article is part of Tech.eu's highlighting of remarkable Ukrainian startups on the one-year anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Read more ...