Strike Force: What Difference We Offer

How to get the best results and pay less

People are spoilt for choice when it comes to software companies. We are clearly haunted by ads of software development firms that are always happy to offer their services. The main task of these companies is to show their future clients that they are better than someone else. No wonder! For software companies, each project is a new achievement that takes them one level higher. But sometimes projects fail. And it’s not a mere coincidence.

In the pursuit of quantity, people forget about quality. For a project to be a success, a team should take care of all of its stages: the beginning stage, the development process, the final stage. But defining goals and distributing tasks is not enough to turn their mission into reality. A team should study their project in much detail, consider it both from practical and abstract perspectives. From a practical perspective, a team solve their particular tasks and track progress. Abstract perspective gives them the chance to see a general picture, to develop a strategy. to view the project “from above.” 

At KeenEthics, forming strategy and choosing the right approach in the beginning is as important as building effective products in the end. For this reason, we use the specific approach which we call “Strike Force.” Under this approach, our company ensures the high effectiveness of a product and dynamic workflow in a team. As years of experience show, the Strike Force concept sets the pace for further working process. It gives us a key to our client’s heart — let us clarify why.

Strike Force: Why We Need It

Strike Force is a metaphoric name for one of the approaches we use in our work with clients. By Strike Force, we mean one or several skilled and senior developers who are involved in the project at the beginning stage. Strike Force is used in cases when our clients have a limited budget and cannot afford to hire a big team of senior developers. 

strike force team2

The main idea behind Strike Force is to make a “striking difference.” Senior professionals are assigned to a project and are responsible for a successful project’s start. Their task is to show other team members how the work process should flow.

The main idea behind Strike Force is to make a striking difference.

They help choose the right technologies, set up the proper environment, develop effective structure and architecture. In other words, Strike Force professionals set the right work pace on a project. After a month, the Strike Force group finish their task and leave the project, but they also leave behind excellent discipline and powerful work patterns.

Can Strike Force Bring the Difference to Your Project?

Let us prove our expertise in software development. Our professionals are ready to review your project’s goals and check whether Strike Force can help!

Alex Pletnov Ilona Shvahla Head of Partner Engagement

How did we come to the idea of Strike Force? Everything started with the broken windows theory. This theory states that visible signs of unacceptable behavior create an environment in which people are inclined to reproduce such behavior. For example, if a person lives in a neighborhood where it’s all about arbitrariness, the chances are that this person will adjust to the given environment and encourage disorder. The rule works vice versa: when one eliminates the visible signs of unacceptable behavior, they improve the environment and set the right tone for how things should work.

Here at KeenEthics, low quality is one of the aspects we do not stand for, no matter what the project’s size, timeframe, and budget are. We introduced the broken windows theory to our philosophy to make sure that unacceptable behavior, which is low quality in our case, is avoided. The goal of Strike Force is to create an environment in which developers follow patterns set by the Strike Force group. Primary responsibilities are performed by senior specialists, and a team has the chance to target their efforts to more detailed and vital tasks.

The goal of Strike Force is to create an environment in which developers follow the right patterns.

Strike Force Approach vs Traditional Staffing

Traditional Staffing is the opposite of Strike Force. Under traditional staffing, mid-level and junior developers start the project in a way they did it before. Such an approach does not guarantee that the developers’ experience will allow for the effective project’s start. They may choose the wrong technologies and set the wrong patterns, they may not understand the priorities of their tasks. Most likely, the outcome will be worse than that achieved with Strike Force.

Let’s take a pre-commit hook as an example. A pre-commit hook is used to inspect the snapshot before it is actually committed. Less experienced developers may not know that pre-commit hooks should be run before the work starts. If they miss this point, it will be far more difficult for them to run a pre-commit hook later. In this case, one of the tasks of Strike Force will be to make sure that a pre-commit hook is run in the beginning, which will save time and resources later.

Even if technologies are chosen correctly, the wrong strategy of working with these also adversely affects the quality of a product. If developers choose the components inappropriately, it impedes the development process and increases the possibility of errors and bugs. Strike Force help make sure that work patterns are adjusted to the project’s goals and demands.

So: choosing traditional staffing, you get higher technical debt and higher dynamics of its growth. Under Strike Force, both the value of technical debt and its growth dynamics are lower.

Our Experience with Strike Force: Case Example

Generally, the benefits of Strike Force can be viewed from two sides: the practical and the psychological. Let’s start with the first.

  • Practical Side

The practical side of Strike Force works best for a client because they get a high-quality product at a lower price. By a lower price, we mean not only the price for a product itself but also the price for the hours spent on the development process. The number of hours needed to complete the project depends on several factors. Namely, the speed of performance of a team, the quality and frequency of communication between team members, their level of expertise.

strike force team

When it comes to the last factor, the Strike Force approach allows our clients to “grow” the team’s expertise by integrating skilled team players into the project for one month. By doing so, you expand the variety of strategic choices presented to your team at the beginning stage. With Strike Force, your team is exposed to a wider experience of choosing the right technologies. And even when you switch most of the team members to junior or mid-level developers a month later, Strike Force always stay with you as consultants and help your team if needed. 

The Strike Force approach allows our clients to “grow” the team’s expertise by integrating skilled team players into the project for one month.

  • Psychological Side

This side of the issue matters more for your team. It’s all about setting the right pace, having the right role models. The thing is, when your team starts working on a project, they have two choices. The first is to apply their traditional style of working and use common patterns for managing tasks. Team members work more as independent actors, which adversely affects the overall team’s performance. The second option is to adapt to the speed and principles dictated by senior and more skilled team players. 

In this case, developers demonstrate higher productivity and performance because they see the example of how the working process should unfold. The Strike Force approach is based on the second scenario. It ensures that you get the best result while having a diverse team. 

Case Example

The power of Strike Force is proven in practice. Recently, we finished a project where our task was to develop a real estate platform for a client from the US. The main requirements were high quality combined with high performance. The client had a limited budget and could not hire a huge development team. Instead, he wanted to make sure that the existing team would perform well, and that the results would be successful. 

So, our task was to ensure that the client’s expectations would be met. For sure, a limited budget limits opportunities. But we never let our clients down, regardless of the project’s budget. We started looking for ways to give our client what he needed at the lowest cost. To boost the productivity of the whole team, we decided to integrate Strike Force into the project. 

One of our senior specialists was assigned to the team and had to show other team members how the work process should unfold. He chose technologies and taught others how to use these technologies to develop specific features for the real-estate platform. He formed the ground for a successful project’s start and helped others adapt their skills and tempo to these requirements. After a month, the team learned how to perform effectively, and the senior developer took the role of a consultant. 

What result did the client get? Strike Force established a particular work atmosphere and set the right discipline level to ensure that the work is under way.

Wrap Up

Now you see why so many of our clients prefer the Strike Force approach. Analyzing past experience, we noticed an interesting tendency: projects that involve Strike Force in the beginning are more successful in the end. Our clients spend less money but are ensured the same quality as if their team consisted only of senior developers. 

So, the Strike Force approach is a perfect choice for those who have a limited budget but do not want to compromise on quality. KeenEthics always is on our client’s side — we help choose the best strategy possible. And if saving money and increasing performance still seem to be incomparable goals for you, let our professionals explain how your particular project can benefit from Strike Force!

Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19: Why to Be Super Attentive to Yourself and Your Loved Ones

A broken leg and a broken mind hurt the same

The pandemic has changed our normal course of life: no travels, no work meetings, no real-life entertainment, no vacations with children, no chilling with friends. We feel desperate as there is no psychological safety provided. Such a situation exacerbates mental health problems in the workplace, and not only. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-third of humanity has been affected by mental health issues because of the pandemic.

Director-General of the WHO Tedros Gebreesu highlights that COVID-19 has influenced the mental health of millions of people, increasing the levels of fear and anxiety. Meantime, Tedros also notes that even before the pandemic, the question of mental health was not given enough attention. According to his estimates, nearly 1 billion people worldwide suffer from mental disorders. Therefore, it is high time to talk about mental health a lot. Talk loudly and openly.

Numerous studies investigated the effects of COVID-19 on mental health. We already have scientifically sound evidence of the interconnection of these two factors. Experts from the Chapman University of America were among the first to conduct a study that showed how the coronavirus pandemic affects people’s mental health. Of more than 4,000 respondents, 61% said they noticed a high level of stress, and 45% said they felt depressed or hopeless. According to the study, people began to eat more junk food, lost motivation to play sports. Instead of reading books, they chose to watch TV. In total, more than half of respondents said they felt very concerned about the coronavirus pandemic.

And that’s how new COVID-19 reality looks like for most of us. On the one hand, worrying for yourself or your loved ones when there is a real threat to your health and life is biologically justified. It’s okay to experience stress in such situations. On the other hand, when you feel anxiety for a long time, be ready to face the adverse consequences for your mental health. But what factors influence our mental health? Let’s find it out.

What Causes Stress During the Quarantine and Hereafter?

Here are the main stress factors during quarantine, which will matter even after it ends:

  • Quarantine duration

Three studies found that an extended quarantine leads to the problems with mental health, including the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Fear of infection

In eight studies, the participants reported fear for their own health and fear of infecting others.

  • Frustration and boredom

Restrictions on freedom of movement, disruption of routine, reduction of social and physical contact with other people — all these factors cause boredom, frustration, and feeling of separation from the rest of the world.

  • Insufficient provision

Insufficient provision of essentials (food, water, clothing, and shelter) during quarantine is a reason for frustration, which causes anxiety and anger.

  • Insufficient information

In one study, participants noted that they had not been sufficiently informed about the situation with COVID-19. Healthcare authorities gave no sufficient instructions, which played a role as a stress factor. Furthermore, they presented unclear protocols for actions to be taken and could not clearly explain the purpose of the quarantine.

  • Finances

Many people lost their jobs. Their salaries became smaller. As a result, they could not plan anything, they felt insecure. Unstable financial situation adversely affects people’s mental well-being and causes serious socio-economic distress. Moreover, insecurity can be a risk factor for symptoms of some mental disorders, anger, and anxiety for several months after the quarantine.

Why to Care About Mental Health?

We should care about our mental health at work and at home because COVID-19 has direct and indirect effects on our well-being: it can cause anxiety, depression, apathy, insomnia, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, germaphobia. Therefore, it is doubly important to have background knowledge of mental health question and understand what problems you can face and how to deal with them.

How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Loved Ones?

The basic recommendations for taking care of your mental health include: having quality sleep, eating tasty and healthy food, having plenty of communication, playing sports, and doing your favorite activities. Maintaining a healthy climate in a family and feeling the support of your closest ones is also very important. These factors give us a sense of security. Besides, you can practice the so-called resource activities. It’s when you recall happy memories or force yourself to feel happiness. After all, each of us has memories and dreams that make us happy. So, be sure to surround yourself with good information and cultivate positive thinking.

However, if post-COVID problems with mental health make your life difficult, you need to consult a healthcare professional. For example, you can ask them to help you choose meds for treating insomnia or excessive anxiety. Sometimes a few consultations can be enough to significantly improve your condition. In fact, we all have to cultivate the practice of working with mental health and visiting a psychotherapist because most people still feel uncomfortable while talking about their mental health issues. Yet, responses to stress can be different in different people, and your response to abnormal circumstances is as normal as the response of anyone else. Take care of yourself and keep in mind that mental health always matters, particularly under the COVID-19 conditions.

How to Monitor Your Mental Health?

The main piece of advice I can give you is to seek professional help as soon as you feel that something goes wrong with your mental well-being. As soon as you experience intrusive, obsessive, anxious thoughts, as soon as you have thoughts about harming yourself, you should address a mental health expert. To help you monitor your mood and mental well-being, there are two solutions for healthcare I would recommend.


This app uses the principles and tools of Cognitive Behavior Therapy to help you improve your mood, identify and understand the nature of unhealthy thoughts, and track changes in your mental well-being over time. You can use it as both an individual practice and an extra measure along with professional treatment. The greatest advantage of it is self-reflection — the ability to track and chart your mood daily. This application is available only for iOS.

What’s Up?

What’s Up? uses the concepts and methods of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy to help a person better understand oneself and deal with their mental issues. It offers different strategies to overcome negative thinking patterns, mood and habit tracking tools, breathing techniques, and positive thinking quotes. This application is available for both iOS and Android.

How to Take Care of Your Employees?

It is actually so important to notice people beside you. Pay attention to them, ask sincerely how they are doing, be empathetic. “Hey, how is your mood today?”. “Are you sleeping well?”. “Can I help you somehow?”. “Let me know if anything bothers you, alright?”. These questions are so simple but so powerful — they have the potential to save lives. Company owners should understand that their business is going to be by many times more profitable, prosperous, and socially responsible if they take care of the mental well-being of their employees.

The happiness of an employee translates into high performance and productivity. The psychological climate in a team, the quality of interpersonal relationships have an immense impact on a worker and on a team in general.

The US Department of Health & Human Services published a set of recommendations as to how to create a mental-health-friendly working environment. These recommendations include:

  • Being open to all candidates when hiring them;
  • Appreciating diversity;
  • Ensuring healthcare, which covers mental health issues as well as physical health;
  • Developing programs and practices that support people’s health and life-work balance;
  • Training managers and supervisors on the matters of corporate mental health;
  • Ensuring the safety and confidentiality of employees’ health information;
  • Supporting employees who need medical help;
  • Ensuring a decent end of collaboration in case an employee needs to quit.
Do you have an idea for a mental health app?

Our healthcare software development team will gladly help you research and develop your idea.

So It’s Not that Bad, Is It?

Despite concerns about the negative effects of the pandemic, psychologists trace some positive trends. According to psychologist Steven Taylor, the pandemic has already shown that most people can be resilient to stress and can stay flexible. Humanity in general is able to recover fairly quickly after damaging events. Wuhan, for example, was the place where the pandemic began and where it was curbed with a harsh 76-day quarantine. Soon in August, Wuhan citizens organized and held a music festival. Thousands of people gathered side by side, without masks and social distancing simply because they eradicated the infection and there was no need to do so. This is what happens when a community is determined to eliminate the problem and regain safety.

To Wrap Up

Psychohygiene is as important as brushing your teeth in the morning. Pay attention to your feelings, emotions, mood. Remember that workplace mental health directly affects your motivation and productivity. Sharing your thoughts and worries with friends, colleagues, and family, using custom healthcare solutions, and not being afraid to seek professional treatment can help you keep control over your life.

Moreover, taking care of the mental well-being of your employees is as important as hiring the right candidates. It will help you reduce attrition, boost productivity, and create a stronger corporate culture. After all, people are the highest value you ever have!

5 Reasons Why You Will Enjoy Working for a Tech4Good Startup

Here comes a list of steps to quickly configure your Node.js application server

Has the business sphere changed in the last 5 years? With the rise of the Internet, the answer can hardly be “no.” Moreover, the answer can’t be “no” when it comes to the pandemic. Thanks to the Internet and modern technologies, people have the chance to study and work during the lockdown, stay connected, and ensure that they have everything needed. 

Considering all this happening, you frequently face a situation when you have to choose. What sphere to enter, what company to focus on, what criteria to stick to? These are the questions frequently asked by developers who create a strategy for their professional path. And today, I am also going to talk about the choice. 

When you look for a job, among all the options presented on the market, you come across the category of “Tech4Good startups,” also called “social” or “ethical” startups. But before discussing the value of Tech4Good startups, let me briefly explain what the Tech4Good movement is. As you can see from its name, Tech4Good is the practice of using technology for social good. The mission of Tech4Good is to apply technology to a broader context to improve our ecosystem. 

Companies representing this movement aim not only to get personal benefits but to make the world better. Being a Tech4Good company means using the available resources and technology to address social, economic, cultural, or environmental challenges. Such companies are open to cooperation and cultivate ethical values through the use of technology. 

Why is working for Tech4Good companies considered a precious opportunity nowadays? Because of their long-term impact. Tech4Good startups make you a part of something unique and valuable — let’s look at 5 reasons why. 

1. You enjoy a sense of higher purpose.

Many of us strive to make more money, but not so many keep in mind that money alone cannot make us happy. Those who focus exclusively on profit sooner or later come to the idea that money is just a tool and not the ultimate goal. In the background of world digitization and automation, we should not forget that we are humans. We still want to feel our belongingness to a community, we still want to feel valued.

If you also aim to experience a sense of higher purpose and feel proud that your skills help someone, consider working for a Tech4Good startup. So far, numerous Tech4Good projects use technology to help people in need. And Kinderenergy is one of those. 

Source: Kinderenergy

Kinderenergy is a water and food sustainability project aimed to encourage US students to help kids in rural areas. Currently, the project staff is looking for financial and media support to provide Tanzanian children with means of survival. If you also would like to support this noble cause, go to the Kinderenergy landing page and donate.

Although there are no open vacancies at Kinderenergy so far, you can volunteer your skills — this is an excellent way to start your career in Tech4Good. As the company states itself, “There are numerous opportunities for collaboration.” So, email them at if you are interested.

2. Innovative startups use innovative technologies.

Let’s take AR and VR technology as an example. Augmented and Virtual Reality technology is implemented for various purposes, from entertainment to science, and is beneficial for both users and developers. Cost-effectiveness, broad applicability and functional flexibility are the features that make AR and VR relevant today. 

Many Tech4Good startups also decide to make use of AR and VR because of the advantages it offers. One of such startups is the GiveVision project, the finalist of the AbilityNet Accessibility Award 2018.

Source: VentureBeat

The project sees its mission in helping people who lose their sight to regain this ability with innovative goggles. On their website, you can check dozens of people’s stories of how GiveVision goggles have become an indispensable part of their lives. 

Contact the company to ask them whether they are currently open to cooperation. And to keep track of GiveVision updates, follow the company on LinkedIn.

3. You improve your professional image.

Regardless of the sphere you aim to enter, the chances are that you will face high competition. The market is overwhelmed, so your task as a developer is to stand out from all the others. In this regard, a Tech4Good project can be a respectable and dignified addition to your portfolio. 

Being a part of a Tech4Good startup will add value to your professional image. When, apart from professional competence, your work bears some social significance, it gives you extra points while conquering the market.

4. You make a lot of social connections.

Tech4Good movement is based on people’s collaboration and mutual help. It means that, being a Tech4Good developer, you will meet a lot of influential people. Many companies known worldwide also support the Tech4Good movement in order to build a positive brand image and earn respect of their users. 

Microsoft, for example, is supporting Tech4Good entities working in India. Establishing social connections enhances the company’s success and demonstrates that they cultivate the right values. 

Moreover, by taking part in the development of the Tech4Good project, you get the chance to earn worldwide recognition. Tech4Good awards organized annually allow startup teams to become well-known. One of such awards, the Accessibility Award, is sponsored by Google. Could you imagine how many new and successful people you can meet if your company becomes a finalist?

5. Tech4Good is the future of tech. 

The Tech4Good movement is continually growing and expanding. People are no longer interested just in making their tasks easier with the help of technology. They are now willing to use the latter to serve global and more important goals. 

Solving environmental problems, looking for new solutions in medicine, increasing economic growth — these are particularly interesting areas when it comes to technological impact. Probably, you have already heard the term “industrial revolution,” but do you know that there have been four stages of this revolution so far? 

We are now living in the fourth stage, but with the rise of technology, we are going to face the fifth one. This stage is called Industry 5.0 and is aimed to step aside from one-size-fits-all solutions in the direction of one-of-a-kind solutions. And a 3D printer is a concept that already represents Industry 5.0. 

Optimus Planto is a 3D printing technology aimed to enable molecular replicators. 3D prostheses developed with Optimus Planto are made out of plastic. They are expected to replace titanium prostheses, which will reduce both production costs and patient discomfort.  Hernando Sanchez-Faddeev, the project’s founder, can tell you more about their goals and achievements.

So, if you want to keep pace with innovation and growth — choose Tech4Good as your focus. 

Wrap Up 

A Tech4Good startup is a perfect choice for progressive and ambitious professionals who are aware of world tendencies and want to contribute to global goals. Apart from pursuing a higher purpose and increasing your social significance, you will keep your professional competence at a decent level when joining the Tech4Good community. 

As Henri Nyakarundi, one of the Tech4Good leaders, said in the interview, “Tech4Good is not just the future — it’s a must and a necessity.” This is why the number ofTech4Good startups is increasing rapidly. Thus, if making money is not your ultimate goal and if you want to make a change — working for a Tech4Good startup is the best way to start!

If you are interested in Tech4Good and want to find Tech4Good companies to work for, check the Jobs Board of the Tech4Good website or look for Tech4Good startups on the Tech4Good Awards website.

Do you need a development team to support your Tech4Good idea?

Our professionals would gladly join you in your endeavor. Learn more about us to understand if we can become a match.

KeenEthics: Our Ethical Dimension

Who is and what is behind the scenes of the KeenEthics brand? Let’s take a look at KeenEthics values, our team, and the history of our company’s name together.

KeenEthics Team

KeenEthics is a team of 49 people devoted to the goal of empowering businesses with end-to-end software development. We deliver elegant and modern design services and solutions to improve the daily business processes of our clients. KeenEthics is based in Ukraine and locally represented in the Netherlands and the US. In 2015, we started with a small team but managed to grow our company several times and earn more than 20 long-term partners. We are proud to fulfill our mission daily and increase the number of satisfied and happy clients all over the globe.

Each member of our team is a unique personality with a story to share, a keen interest in personal and professional development, and a passionate approach to work. Here at KeenEthics, we cultivate a pleasant work atmosphere and friendliness. What’s our secret to success? I would say, “We work only with people who mirror our worldview and share our life philosophy. And that’s the most important thing.”

Quality, efficient communication, ethical attitude to all the parties involved, sustainability, support of those in need, and open source are the fundamentals of KeenEthics. We take a proactive position in the question of changing the world for the better. As a part of our strategy, we launched the Let Kids Move movement. It’s aimed to make students’ time-spending at school more dynamic and healthier. The most precious thing about the project is that everyone can join us and help make the future of our kids happier. Let’s change the world together! 

Our Brand Name: Where Did It Come from?

Most software development agencies choose a company name that somehow relates to the line of business they are in. By doing so, they acquaint their target audience with their areas of focus. When it comes to our company, it’s not that simple. You might have wondered what “KeenEthics” has in common with software. And I am here to tell you a story of how our brand name was born.

Why did we decide to create our own company? Having worked with several agencies, we have noticed some inefficiencies in the way they run business. We were convinced that the attitude to a customer should be different from what it was in most companies. So, having a clear vision was the first step on our way to establishing our own community.

In the course of cooperation with other businesses, we defined and analyzed the areas that could be improved to make both the client’s impression and the company’s image better. Soon, we came to the conclusion that there were plenty of changes we could bring to the industry to make software development more efficient. Particularly, we desired to make remote software design more keen and ethical.

The next question that we asked ourselves was, “How will clients call us? What associations will come to their minds while hearing our company’s name?” Choosing a title that would represent our vision was a tough nut to crack. We brainstormed and came up with a list of over 60 titles for any taste: sophisticated and simple, serious and hilarious, unusual, and quite common within the industry. After that, each of us removed the ones they found to be somewhat excessive or controversial. We took the rest of the variants in our list and gave them to a native speaker — just to make sure that they are free of bias.

And the last step was to decide upon the final name together. Eventually, out of 60 options, we were left with the one and only “KeenEthics.” Why did this name stick in our minds? Because of its powerful meaning. As you see, our company’s name consists of two words: “Keen” and “Ethics.” “Keen” stands for curiosity and enthusiasm, while “Ethics” signifies our primary mission of making the business world more honest, transparent, and ethical.

Values We Cultivate

A brand name is worth nothing if it doesn’t reflect a company’s principles and deeds. So, it’s the best time to tell you more about our values that differentiate us from others.

  • Ethical Attitude to Partners

We highly value people who choose to trust us with their projects, who rely upon us with their issues, and who believe in our solutions. We strive to make our communication with the partners fully transparent in the pursuit of strengthening our relationships and proving our trustworthiness and dependability. We are absolutely honest about the resources we use throughout the project, the challenges we face, and the opportunities we offer. In turn, we expect our clients to be truthful and understanding.

  • Ethical Attitude to Team Members

We highly value our pool of talents and make sure that each person feels not as an employee but as a team member. The atmosphere in our office is always friendly and warm, our routine is varied in social events and hackathons. Birthday greetings and celebrations, parties, and outings are also important constituents of our corporate culture. We always care about our office environment and make sure that every team member enjoys the time they spend with their colleagues.

Of course, under pandemic conditions, we see our team members’ health and safety as top priorities. That’s why we strictly follow all pandemic restrictions and care not only about the physical well-being of our employees but also about their mental well-being. To make remote work effective and pleasant, we regularly take all the necessary measures. One-to-one meetings with our mental health specialist, regular video conferences (both formal and informal ones), and various online events help our team members maintain work motivation and stay connected. 

  • Sustainability

KeenEthics is deeply concerned about the environmental changes that happen because of human activity on Earth. We are aware of climate issues and fully understand the responsibility for this human-made problem we ought to shoulder. KeenEthics is also convinced that every little bit helps. And even though our small contribution may not prevent global warming, it is still a step worth taking.

With this intent, we sort and recycle wastes, promote the idea of reusable bottles and containers among our team members, and encourage everyone to look for an alternative to a personal car as a means of transport. We also welcome projects that aim to reduce adverse effects on the environment, and we are extremely happy each time our software solutions can help.

  • Support for Vulnerable Groups and Promotion of Tech4Good

We understand that not everyone was fortunate enough to be born in a loving family, to obtain a proper education, and to find a well-paid job. Marginalized groups have no opportunity to satisfy their most immediate needs, and it is a civic responsibility and a moral duty of every decent citizen to help those people in their hardship. We support a number of social projects dedicated to helping orphans, senior citizens, sick kids, and impoverished people. We are also concerned with animals and help shelters care for homeless dogs and cats. Since St. Nicholas Day is one of those holidays that Ukrainian kids are most waiting for, every winter, we help volunteers collect presents for orphans and children from necessitous families.

Moreover, we support the Tech4Good movement and regularly socialize the stories of remarkable Tech4Good leaders. Unfortunately, we’ve had no access to a number of our volunteering activities because of the pandemic. But helping others should have no limits. That’s why KeenEthics decided to dedicate the year 2020 to the promotion of Tech4Good in our blog. In this way, we help the Tech4Good movement find more followers, volunteers, and contributors. In our recent article, you can learn more about our achievements in this area. 

  • Healthy Lifestyle and Knowledge-Sharing

Our team consists of various people, each with a broad outlook and a unique attitude to life. Here at KeenEthics, we have vegans and vegetarians, people obsessed with sports and outdoor activities. Our employees have an opportunity to work at stand-up desks in order to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting. Besides, our corporate parties and celebrations are always alcohol-free because we care about the health and believe that having fun goes better while being clear-headed. Furthermore, KeenEthics encourages knowledge sharing, regularly organizing workshops and webinars. We also offer compensation for taking courses, joining a gym, and many more.

  • Open-Source

We strive to share our knowledge and expertise with those who need a professional recommendation and assistance, should they be experienced developers, or newbies, or those who just plan to enter the industry. Therefore, our company is a major contributor to such open-source platforms as Botpress and Github, and we continue working hard to advance the global software development community.

  • Quality and Excellence

We are devoted to solving business challenges and providing excellent BA, design, development, and product support services. We conduct regular training and knowledge sharing programs, both external ones, such as various meetups or the annual Hacktoberfest, and internal tech talks. We carry out performance evaluations, practice pair programming and team brainstorming, visit external educational events, invite competent speakers from outside ― all for the sake of constantly improving our competence and ensuring the highest quality.

Wrap Up

Today, we got the chance to acquaint you with our brand story, our mission and values, and our keen and cool team. If you have questions or want to learn more about our company, do not hesitate to contact our professionals. We are always eager to assist you in solving issues or to give you guidance. 

KeenEthics is proud of our achievements so far and wants to reach new goals day by day. Together with our clients, we build a strong and ethical business community and transform the understanding of partnership. We also welcome you to join us and contribute to making change. 

We care about our corporate culture!

IWe share our enthusiasm and optimism, cheer up those in dismay, and support those in need. We highly value and respect our team members, clients, and partners. Check out our Instagram and Facebook to see! Creating corporate culture is creating the culture of a team, so we build a team!

Tech4Good Movement Through the Eyes of KeenEthics

Today, we won’t talk about PWA development or MVP. We won’t instruct you on how to build your own mHealth solution and won’t explain how to protect your Express.js app. This article will be about something more global.

For each of us, New Year’s Eve is the time to summarize the results of the year and analyze the work we have done to make ourselves better. The end of the year is the time to think, “Who are we? What’s our mission in this life? What good things do we bring to this world?” 

As a company, KeenEthics also wants to review our achievements, share our plans, and set new goals. If you are sitting at a cozy home now, drinking a cup of warm coffee, and thinking about your vocation, we welcome you to read this article — to learn more about KeenEthics and Tech4Good values.

Tech4Good: What It Means for KeenEthics

As you know, we position ourselves as an ethical software development company. As a part of our strategy, we regularly organize interviews with the representatives of Tech4Good movement, with Tech4Good leaders. Why do we do this? Because we believe that people’s practice of using technology only to entertain themselves or make money should be left in the past. 

Just think of it: modern technology gives people the chance to survive after hard accidents. It helps spread awareness of wars or famines happening in the world. Technology even helps blind people restore their vision. Knowing about its potential, how can we still see technology that narrowly?

Tech4Good movement gives an answer to this question: we simply cannot. We cannot treat technology in the way we did 10 years ago. Tech4Good movement is aimed to change people’s attitude to technology and teach them to use it for the common good, for ethical purposes. Addressing social challenges, promoting inclusiveness, fighting for equality and accessibility — this is how we describe the central aims of Tech4Good.

Tech4Good Leaders: Behind the Scenes

Before I introduce our Tech4Good leaders, you might be interested in the background of this series. Each month, our team sets the same goal: to find an interesting Tech4Good leader, contact them, and organize an interview that will soon turn into an exciting article. Each month, we look for touching and inspirational stories, we search for Tech4Good companies on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook. 

As soon as we find our interviewee and they accept our offer, we decide upon the date and time of the interview. Our talks with Tech4Good leaders are always exhilarating and motivational. I should mention that sometimes when I listen to the stories about their childhood or family difficulties, it’s hard for me to hold back tears. But it’s definitely worth it. After hearing these stories. I always think, “Someone on the Earth helps children to get food and water, someone else fights poverty and illiteracy, why am I still lying on the sofa and doing nothing?”

Tech4Good Leaders: Who Are They and What Are They Doing?

If you have never heard about Tech4Good before, you might be really surprised by the variety of ways people use technology for the social good! We have conducted 8 interviews with Tech4Good leaders so far, and we hope that this number will grow each year. Now, I am going to tell you a little bit more about each person we had the honor to meet in 2020. I will start with Elisabeth Anne Delgado. When I talked about people helping children in need, I meant this inspirational woman.

Elisabeth Anne Delgado

Elisabeth Anne Delgado is the founder of Kinderenergy. Her project’s central idea is to motivate students who have enough resources to help children who lack them. The first step of creating Kinderenergy was made by Elisabeth Anne together with her son and daughter, who were studying in Northern California. In the interview for KeenEthics, Elisabeth Anne revealed that she sees children as the most valuable resource on Earth.

Currently, Kinderenergy is helping kids in Tanzania who have no access to clean water, food, soap, and even decent toilets. Every kid deserves to feel happy and valued, and you can also contribute to helping these children. Just go to the Kinderenergy website and donate. 

The purpose of life is to make others happy, and in the process of it, you find happiness yourself.

Debra Ruh

Dwelling upon powerful and successful women’s stories, I would like to introduce Debra Ruh. Debra is an expert in the field of accessibility, equality, sustainability, and inclusion. She is an experienced businessman and the founder of four enterprises. Debra told us that there are a lot of interesting people on her team. The woman celebrates diversity at the workplace and is open to cooperation. Go to Ruh Global to learn more about Debra’s goals.

During our interview, Debra talked about Ruh Global and the story behind it. Debra also told us about her wonderful daughter, who inspired her to promote digital inclusion, and about her career path, which made her fight for women’s rights and gender equality. For us, Debra’s story is an example of how to stay strong and optimistic. She demonstrates how to treat challenges as a source of inspiration and make a difference.

One of the ways to change the world is to give others a microphone. I want others to speak and to be heard.

Jillian Kowalchuk

The stories of Debra Ruh and Jillian Kowalchuk seem so different, but they are united by a common goal of empowering women. Our conversation with Jillian also explained how personal stories could become a driving force to making a change. 

Once, when Jillian was going to a meeting with her friend, two men blocked her way and wanted to sexually assault her. Fortunately, Jillian managed to run away. Later, she found out that one of her friends also turned out “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. This situation could not leave Jillian indifferent — the woman decided to help people facing the same problem. Today, due to her project Safe & The City, people who go home late at night can feel safe and plan their route in the best way.

Lead with your heart, and you will never go astray.

Tamara Antonchyk

Now, I am happy to tell you more about our personal contribution to Tech4Good movement — the project Let Kids Move. Initiated by KeenEthics, the project aims to develop a universal desk and encourage dynamic postures while studying. As many pieces of research show, a sedentary lifestyle adversely influences people’s health, so our goal is to teach children to take care of their posture from the early years.

In the interview with Tamara Antonchyk, you can learn more about the idea behind the project and goals set for the nearest future. Currently, our team looks for sponsors to support our mission and take care of children. If you also want to help Let Kids Move, go to the project’s website and donate.

Do a good thing. Once you do something good, you will not be able to stop.

Tey El-Rjula

Two more Tech4Good leaders whom we interviewed this year pay particular attention to the problem of poverty. These are Tey El-Rjula and Henri Nyakarundi. We were impressed by Tey El-Rjula’s idea of using Bitcoin to give people in Lebanon more economic opportunities. His story of being “invisible” motivates us to appreciate what we have more.

The man was born in Kuwait, but when the Gulf War started, his family had to flee to Lebanon to survive. The problem was that Kuwait’s birth registries were destroyed because of the war. Tey had no birth certificate, which meant that he would be deprived of many rights and become “invisible”. Fortunately, Tey figured out that he can use Bitcoin to buy things online, and not only. Now, Tey teaches others to do the same.

What we know for sure is that humans by their nature are a driver of the good force  — they are good in their nature.

Nick Gallo

One more interview worth your attention is the one with Nick Gallo. Being a dedicated father, successful entrepreneur, and business consultant, Nick became one of the founders of ComplianceLine. This company is a perfect example of how Tech4Good values work in practice: its goal is to help others build a strong and healthy corporate culture.

ComplianceLine deals with case management, license checking, and issue intake. Nick’s team uses numerous tools to encourage clients to create a compliance-powered atmosphere within their companies. But apart from providing tools, ComplianceLine also gives businesses guidelines and essential support, ensuring that they receive a fully-fledged service. To put it simply, Nick’s company turns the “Our mission” section on your company’s website from mere words to pure action.

To build a strong corporate culture, you as a leader have to get back to the foundation of trust and reestablish it in an authentic way.

Henri Nyakarundi

Being a Tech4Good leader from Africa, Henri Nyakarundi impressed us with his life path. Instead of spending the rest of his life in the US and doing business, Henri decided to bring value to his community and moved back to Africa to fight poverty and environmental problems with his company ARED.

Henri is proud of his homeland, community, and culture. At the same time, the man believes that local problems can be solved only by local people, and Africans should learn how to take care of themselves. Henri’s advice will be particularly valuable for the youth who, according to him, are the catalysts of change. Getting youth involved in solving environmental problems — this is how Henri describes his life mission.

It’s not that it’s better or worse out there. It’s just that you create your own opportunities.

Marc Sloan

Meantime, Marc Sloan has become known for his contribution to fighting the pandemic consequences. In a situation when most people care about themselves and their own safety, Marc decided to care about others. When the pandemic started, Marc realized that a lot of charities had become helpless and took action. 

Together with other people of technical background, the man built a website where charities can find support. Covid Tech Support has become a platform where volunteers offering their services and nonprofits seeking help find each other. As Marc notes, his project has reinvigorated a number of charities that would not exist today because of the pandemic.

Becoming a volunteer is a great way to differentiate yourself and show that you didn’t spend your quarantine unemployment just sitting in your home. You were out there helping people and learning things.

This is what we know about Tech4Good leaders so far: these stories are so different but equally powerful, moving, and heartwarming.

Tech4Good Values 

Charity, authenticity, honesty, empathy, respect, and fortitude are the key virtues celebrated by Tech4Good representatives. By promoting these values, people reach a higher level of self-growth, making their community evolve. Diversifying quality and giving others the chance to be heard are also the fundamental goals of Tech4Good. 

Here is what Tech4Good leaders said when we asked them about the most important values in today’s world:

  • Elisabeth Anne Delgado: charity, honesty, and fortitude.
  • Debra Ruh: authenticity, empathy, and helping others.
  • Jillian Kowalchuk: diversity and quality, transparency and accountability.
  • Tamara Antonchyk: respect for life and health.
  • Tey El-Rjula: non-aggression and privacy.
  • Nick Gallo: servanthood, empathy, integrity, respect, tenacity, and accountability.
  • Henri Nyakarundi: honesty and ethics.
  • Marc Sloan: helping others, having a sense of community, honesty, and transparency.

Our New Year’s Resolution

KeenEthics believes that technology can and should be used for global and noble purposes. We can save lives, we can make children’s fate better, we can educate others, we can prevent environmental problems — everything with the help of Tech4Good. 

In 2021, we are determined to continue fulfilling our mission and pleasing you with new interviews. We will look for new ways to reach an even broader audience. And we encourage you to read our Tech4Good series even if you have never dealt with software development — touching stories of Tech4Good leaders resonate with everyone!

Stay with us in the upcoming year, and if you know some Tech4Good leader whose story should be heard, email me at

And last but not least, the KeenEthics team wishes you a happy New Year and a warm celebration!

CDo you need a development team to support your Tech4Good idea?

Our professionals would gladly join you in your endeavor. Learn more about us to understand if we can become a match.

The Leaders of Tech4Good: Meet Henri Nyakarundi

Henri Nyakarundi reveals what challenges Africa is facing now, why Tech4Good matters today, and why it will matter in the future.

In the eighth interview of our “The Leaders of Tech4Good” blog series, we are talking with Henri Nyakarundi, the founder of ARED and the promoter of Tech4Good in Africa. Henri says, “Tech4Good is not just the future — it’s a must and a necessity, and there is no other way around.”

Who is Henri Nyakarundi?

Henri Nyakarundi is a well-respected entrepreneur, businessman, social strategist, speaker, and the representative of the Tech4Good movement. Henri is a founder of ARED and the author of the book “My African Dream: One Man’s Journey Back Home”, in which he shares his personal experience of living in the West and moving back to his homeland.

In this interview, we are talking about his life and challenges on his way, the reality of living abroad, his mission, business, and the significance of “belonging”. Henri’s success story is extraordinary, but the values he promotes and cultivates are pretty known and universal. 

Could you please tell our readers more about yourself and about what you do?

Sure. I was born in Kenya and grew up in Burundi as a refugee till the war ended in Rwanda in 1994. In 1996, I moved to the US to study Computer Science. I spent 17 years in America, but I realized that a 9-5 job is not for me and my calling lies in entrepreneurship. I dedicated the next ten years to developing business in the trucking and construction spheres. 

Also, I’ve always been concerned with green sector development and sustainability. I founded ARED and in 2013, moved back to Rwanda. Currently, I deal with entrepreneurship, sustainability, technology impact, and economic challenges that Africa faces today. 

That’s very interesting, thank you! And you said that you moved back to Africa after spending 17 years in the US. Many people who move to the US set some expectations about their career, about the so-called American dream and decide to take up permanent residence there. And not so many of them decide to move back. What motivated you to move back to Africa?

You know, when I got there, I realized that America was very different from what I had envisioned. First of all, I didn’t know that there were poor people and there was crime in America. I thought everybody had money there, but it was the country with the hardest ecosystem I have ever lived in.

America is also a very unforgiving country, compared to Africa, which is very community-based. US society is very individualistic. So, living there was very challenging. At the same time, however, it taught me a lot. It taught me to be independent, it taught me to be responsible. But as I said, I spent 17 years in America, and soon I felt like I reached a ceiling. I felt like there was nothing else there for me to prove. 

I moved back to Rwanda in 2013, but between 2008 and 2013, I was going on vacation to East Africa every year. I started seeing the changes happening on the continent. Africa was changing, laws were changing. Entrepreneurship was becoming the way to go, so entrepreneurs had a policy in place they were looking for.

There also were a lot of marketing campaigns aimed to bring back diaspora. So I thought that I’d have more value coming back and more opportunities to do something great on the continent than in the States. And that’s really what the premise for me was. Making money was no longer my focus, I wanted something more — I wanted to have an impact. 

I wanted to impact people’s lives. And Africa was the perfect place — it’s an ecosystem that I’m from, even though I’ve been gone for so long. Of course, I had to retrain and reprogram myself, but I felt very strongly that this would be my next journey, and it’s the best decision I’ve made.

Sounds really inspiring! Indeed, we shouldn’t run away from our problems, we should help change our country for the better. By the way, what was your first experience with the Tech4Good movement? How did you come to the idea that helping others is a part of your mission?

You know, I’m a very practical person. I don’t think too deep about certain things. I just always follow my heart and stay practical about it. For a long time, I thought that making money is what makes me happy (just like most young people tend to think). Because of such a vision, I almost became a slave to money. 

My trucking company was successful, but I was just not enjoying myself. Moreover, at that time, my little daughter was complaining that she had no chance to spend enough time with her daddy. So I had to sit down and ask myself what life is about. Is it just about focusing on myself and accumulating money? And what’s next? And I realized there was something wrong with that strategy. 

I realized that life is not just about making money but also about empowering someone else, empowering your community. When you become mature, it’s no longer about yourself. It’s also about others. If you truly want to fulfill your life, you need to do something for others, not just for yourself. This is how this natural decision has become my new focus.

“Each element of the framework serves a specific purpose that is essential to the overall value and results realized with Scrum. Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.”

I should note that by listening to stories like yours, our audience will get a better understanding of how to start making a change in their communities! Please, tell our readers more about your project.

ARED is a Tech4Good company based in Rwanda. It is a HARD TECH as Service Company (HASS). As for now, we’ve been in business for seven years. We develop what we call a multi-service digital-edge platform to bridge the digital gap and the energy gap in low-income areas, rural areas, refugee camps. For those who don’t know Africa, it’s a very fragmented market, both on the micro and macro level. Even in refugee camps, people have to walk miles to get access to basic services. So helping others — this is what the premise of the company is. 

We develop two products: Solar Kiost Platform and Mini Server Platform to allow users to access connectivity via Wi-Fi on our Kiost, make use of phone charging services and digital services — all in one. We also have economic empowerment: we work with women and people with disabilities. Also, we cooperate with NGOs and telecom companies, and we provide the technology to them. We advise them on how to implement this micro infrastructure across different areas. 

At the same time, we are for-profit, and we spend a lot of time developing a very innovative business model — we call it a modular business model. We’ve built partnerships along our whole supply chain: from product development research and development software to Kiost’s development design and so forth. So, the core of our team is very small, but we work with different partners around the area to implement and develop the tech.

That’s great, thanks for the answer! And moving to one of your global aims of reducing the poverty rate. Please, name some major consequences of poverty you witness in Africa and explain how technology helps to solve them.

The consequences of poverty are the same around the world. As I said, in our space ARED, we deal with energy and connectivity. There is a huge gap between these two aspects. When I talk about connectivity, it’s not just about the Internet. It’s about access to digital services, access to digital applications that can bring value. 

And the same gap is seen between the middle class and the lower class. If you look at the statistics in Africa, you’ll find out that 70% of the population still live in rural areas. The lack of electricity in those communities is around 80%. There’s been a study by the UN and other organizations showing that bringing connectivity increases those communities’ GDP because of the access to information. Let’s take farmers, for example. Because of the access to information, they know how to farm better and how to increase their crops. Information is key now.

Also, one of the biggest problems is economic opportunities. Unemployment in some communities is upward of 40%, and more and more people move to the cities looking for jobs. Even though Africa is very rich in a lot of areas, we still don’t produce enough food for the population. We still import a lot.

Dwelling upon the poverty issue, add the problem of global warming here. So we have a huge demographic problem, we have a poverty aspect, and we have global warming that makes our resources scarce. All these aspects need to be addressed, and they’ve slowly been addressed. But they’ve not been addressed consistently, and there’s still a lack of resources. 

Thus, together with others at ARED, we make our contribution to different communities — there are a lot of big challenges and huge opportunities when it comes to each. You know, when there’s a big challenge, there is also a huge opportunity.

When there’s a big challenge, there is also a huge opportunity.

Great words! In one of your videos, you talk about international collaboration. Could you please briefly explain your opinion about how poverty should be diminished. Should Africa rely on support from the West, I mean seek international support, or maybe it is better to do everything on your own? 

There is a simple answer to your question. And it’s not only about Africans — it’s about everybody. Only Africans can solve our problems — and nobody else. When it comes to Africa, the problem is that Western countries do not put us on the same pedestals as they do each other. People look at Africans as being unable to solve their problems. It’s a mindset problem, and we see this problem in foreign entities. 

I’ll give you an example. Over the last seven years, we applied for a lot of grants. Most of their fund decisions are made outside of our continent by people that have no experience in Africa. They may have experience in the key topics, but they don’t understand the ecosystem, and there’s a lot of bias. 

When it comes to selecting companies, they choose companies from their countries or their continent. The situation’s changing a little bit, but it’s not changing that much. So I don’t believe that anybody except Africans can solve our problems. We shouldn’t blame anybody else, we need to take responsibility for our own decisions and our own mistakes — until we change our mindset.

Just think of it: Africans know more about their colonizers than they know about their own culture. It’s crazy. And I’m as guilty as anybody else. Some years ago, I could tell you more about America or France than I could tell you about Rwanda. But how can we build a country or continent when we don’t know our own culture? I started learning about my culture when I moved back here, and I still have a long way to go.

As I said, things are changing slowly. I have faith in the next generation. They’re more Pan-African. They’re more aggressive than my generation. We left Africa because we thought it was better outside than it was locally. I’ve no shame to say that, and it took me 17 years to realize: it’s not that it’s better or worse out there. It’s just that you create your own opportunities.

It’s not that it’s better or worse out there. It’s just that you create your own opportunities.

That’s true! Dwelling upon the problems we see today, in one of your tweets, you say, “When you look at how the world has been able to mobilize itself to fight this Covid pandemic, why can’t we do the same when it comes to fighting poverty or global warming?” One of the reasons probably is that people are not willing to mobilize efforts if they do not feel that the situation affects them personally. So what are the ways to spread awareness among the population?

Well, the problem is not awareness. I work in those communities, and the problem is not awareness — the problem is leadership. It starts with leadership, the right leadership of a country. I don’t know any country or any continent that developed itself based on foreign solutions and support. 

The problem starts when leaders are not paying attention to their population and their problems. We need to solve most of our problems locally by empowering local people and local communities. And these are leaders that help change the mindset of the population. So, it’s not a bottom-up approach, it’s a top-to-bottom approach. Poor people know their challenges, they are aware of their problems. But they have no resources, they have no access to information — and that’s the main concern.

I see. Leadership can really change a lot. And what ethical values do you believe are the most important in today’s world?

Honesty is the number-one value for me. I hate dishonesty. Sometimes, people tell you one thing today, and tomorrow, they tell another thing. That’s terrible. I hate such situations. One more value is ethics. But it’s also about being honest. 

We live in a quick society where people are just moving from one to the next so that dishonesty is becoming normal. That’s why today’s society seems very dishonest. I would say honesty is a big thing, I am a man of my word. It hurts me when I don’t do what I tell you. No, it doesn’t happen often. Because I value this trait the most. 

Me too! And as I see from your LinkedIn activity, you are a very friendly person, and you give young people a lot of useful information, encouraging them to unite efforts and change the situation in Africa. So my question is, how do the younger generation differ from others? Maybe they are more open-minded, or perhaps they are the same. What do you think?

Well, I can only compare my generation to the next generation. They live in a much more competitive world today. Now, almost everybody has a bachelor’s degree. A lot of people have a master’s degree, and quite a few people have PhDs. So it’s very competitive, right? 

Today, you have to find ways to create noise, to stand out from everybody else. Because it’s competitive, you have to work extra hard. The other difference between the youth and my generation is that they’re more aware of what’s going on around the world because of access to the Internet. At least I’ll talk about African youth in general. 

You see, what we used to know about America was from TV shows. My favorite TV show was “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. Everybody’s rich on that show. Like other shows we used to watch, this one did not show the reality of that country. Now on social media, you see the racism and all the crimes and all those things happening. You see the real picture. So you think twice before making a decision.

Besides, the difference is that today, youth have to be quick. You should take your time and go to high school. Then you do a four-year college, then you do the internship. You have to be quick as things are moving, and technology is changing every few years. You have to find your purpose as quickly as possible.

Also, one more thing I feel for the next generation is the environmental status. We’ve destroyed this environment, so the next generation is going to have to rebuild it. And if they don’t, they will be doomed. I’m not trying to scare people, but they will be doomed because we have polluted this world to a level we have never seen before. I want to spend the rest of my life influencing the youth to get them involved in that issue. For me, it’s the biggest fear — the fear for my kids and for the next generation.

I want to spend the rest of my life influencing the youth to get them involved in solving the environmental problem. For me, it’s the biggest fear — the fear for my kids and for the next generation.

Yes, definitely. And the last question for you. What do you think is the future of the Tech4Good movement? Do you think that we as a society are ready for it?

Tech4Good movement is the future, it’s definitely the future! Consider the concept of NGOs. It’s a short-term concept of solving social or poverty problems driven by grants. And when the grant is over, it cannot make a social impact. Unlike NGOs, Tech4Good is more of a long-term implementation of a solution to a community or communities across the world. 

Tech4Good is much more sustainable in terms of focus. I’m going to take it even further: it has to be Tech4Good on the local basis, meaning only the people from that community, country, or continent can solve their problems. Bringing organizations from the West and trying to solve global challenges is not the way out. It’s not gonna work, and it’s not working now.

We need to separate high profit and Tech4Good. There’s still a discrepancy between the funding aspect and what the funders are focusing on. They tend to focus mostly on returns instead of focusing more on the impact or the good they’re doing in their communities. And the partnership is still lacking in that space.

So for Tech4Good to really grow and increase the impact, there will be a need for more collaboration and more funding coming into. Tech4Good is not just the future — it’s a must and a necessity, and there is no other way around.

Tech4Good is not just the future — it’s a must and a necessity, and there is no other way around.

Do you need a development team to support your Tech4Good idea?

Our professionals would gladly join you in your endeavor. Learn more about us to understand if we can become a match.

The Leaders of Tech4Good: Meet Marc Sloan

We discuss how Covid Tech Support helps charities and nonprofits survive during the pandemic and why technology is an integral part of Covid Tech Support’s functioning.

In the sevenths interview of our “The Leaders of Tech4Good” blog series, we are talking with Marc Sloan, one of the founders of Covid Tech Support. It is a project that helps volunteers and nonprofits or charities find each other to give the latter the chance to move online. 

Who is Marc Sloan?

Marc Sloan is one of the leaders of the Tech4Good movement. He is the winner of the Digital Volunteer Award and the founder of Covid Tech Support. Having a technical background and working in the sphere of technology, Marc initiated the creation of the project that has become a platform where volunteers offer their help for charities and nonprofits looking for solutions during the pandemic.

Covid Tech Support is an example of how people can support each other by uniting efforts and promoting community values. Marc Sloan tells our readers about the story behind his project and the results achieved so far.

To start with, could you briefly introduce yourself? 

I’m Marc Sloan, one of the founders of Covid Tech Support, which was set up at the beginning of the Covid pandemic earlier this year. It is a community of tech volunteers who got together to help out charities and nonprofits. They are really struggling with technical challenges while dealing with the Covid pandemic.

Thank you! Dwelling upon the Covid situation, how has life in your country changed with the rise of the pandemic? As I know, you are based in London, Great Britain. So what do you think, what category of people have suffered the most?

These are definitely the people at the margins of society that have really suffered. People who are already suffering from isolation, poverty, food deprivation, or mental health issues. People who are already struggling with everyday life. The quarantine came, along with the Covid restrictions, and suddenly those situations became much, much worse. 

What we saw was that charities that were supporting those people were completely overwhelmed. They needed the most help, they’re the ones who needed us. We also saw that a lot of the ways that charities used to help were no longer an option because of the quarantine restrictions. 

A lot of these charities had to figure out, “Well, how do we offer our service remotely? How do we figure out video calls? We need to make sure that security is good and that people can maintain their anonymity sometimes”. So there were lots of interesting challenges that they’ve never had to deal with before and didn’t know how to solve those things and had to solve them straight away.

I see. We are facing hard times today. By the way, what role does technology play during the pandemic? Does technology positively affect the situation, and does moving online help people and organizations survive?

I’ve spoken to a lot of charities that for years have wanted to go digital. They were used to doing things in person, but they knew that at some point, they’d have to go online and offer services remotely. Everybody knew they needed to do this, but no one had because it’s such a huge undertaking and investment. And then suddenly, they were forced to because of the pandemic. So in some sense, it’s a good thing because a lot of those charities now have gone digital after talking about it for a long time.

But it presents a new problem, too. There’s now going to be greater demand from nonprofits and charities for digital helpers, whereas in the past, they’ve not really needed it. I mean, it’s more technologists than a technology that these services need.

An interesting thing is that we have so many people who have machine learning backgrounds and 10 years of experience. However, most of the projects that come to us just need someone who can put together a WordPress website or who can set up something basic. And that will now fulfill most of the requests we get. Even teaching someone how to use Google Docs can make a huge difference.

Most of the projects that come to us just need someone who can put together a WordPress website or who can set up something basic. Even teaching someone how to use Google Docs can make a huge difference.

Let’s discuss your project in more detail. What inspired you to create Covid Tech Support? Was there some particular situation after which you realized the need to help others? 

What started first was the community right at the beginning of the pandemic. I have a technical background. It means that I have some technical friends. We got together and thought, “Well, there must be something we can do. We’ve got all these skills. We can make websites and apps and all sorts of things. Let’s see if there are other people like this”. 

Our team got together and thought, “Well, there must be something we can do. We’ve got all these skills. We can make websites and apps and all sorts of things. Let’s see if there are other people like this”. 

We found a Slack Group, which was called Code4Covid. We thought, “Oh, this is great! We’ll find other people to work on projects with”. But the next question then was, “What should we work on?” In this community, everyone was coming up with ideas, but none of the ideas sounded like they were solving real problems. So, I realized, “Okay. This is what this community is missing – actual people with real problems who need people like us to help them out”.

Thus, I decided to create Covid Tech Support to be a place for people to find us. To begin with, I didn’t know if it would work, but we soon were overwhelmed with requests from community groups, charities, volunteer organizations needing all sorts of help. As I just said, requests varied from some things as simple as Google docs to setting up an entire website or an app. 

What was fantastic about that was that I could put this community to work. There was so much experience and talent within the community! It’s worth saying the community now is over one and a half thousand people across the world. So we’ve got pretty much every skill covered anybody can ask for. We get projects every week, so it’s still something that’s needed.

That’s really cool that projects like yours exist today! I have a question here. When I entered the website of your project, I saw that people can either find help there or volunteer their skills for other people who need them. I wanted to ask what kind of skills are needed the most today and what kind of help do people seek during the pandemic?

We always need people with technical skills. Technical skills doesn’t necessarily mean 10-15 years of experience in a programming language. It can often be as simple as “I know how to set up a WordPress website”, or even “I know how to handle Google Docs”. The thing that I bear in mind is that there’s a lot of people who ask us for help and have no technical experience. They don’t even know where to start, and even having a conversation with someone who’s more technically minded for 30 minutes can completely change everything for them. 

One of the things we do lack, though, and increasingly get asked for are skills like marketing and branding and design. It’s often the case that there’s a fantastic charity helping with real issues, and just not enough people know that they exist. So they need a bit of help with putting together some good advertising campaign or a good design. 

Okay, thank you! I hope that your team will grow day by day because your project truly expands people’s chances for a better life in such challenging times. And as I know, Covid Tech Support is purely remote. Does it mean that anyone reading this article can enter the website and offer or find help?

Absolutely. The skills that can be offered don’t have to be purely technical. We have a lot of project managers and business managers, we have accountants, we have lawyers. All of those skills are needed at various points by charities. By the way, I think Covid Tech Support is not the best name for it anymore because it’s more like Covid Project Support. 

If you have a professional skill that you’d like to donate to a charity, then by all means, please sign up. We will find a project that needs you. If you need help, the only requirement we have is that your organization is a charity or a nonprofit. We deal with projects from all over the world. 

One more thing for anyone who’s thinking of volunteering their time. Aside from the benefits of helping a charity during these pretty tough times, we’ve been getting a lot of feedback from our volunteers who note that this is a really great opportunity to upskill, to try new things, to get experience. Especially because a lot of our volunteers are out of work right now and also going into an increasingly competitive job market. So, this is a great way to differentiate yourself and show that you didn’t spend your quarantine unemployment just sitting in your home. You were out there helping people and learning things. So I encourage you to sign up and give it a go.

Becoming a volunteer is a great way to differentiate yourself and show that you didn’t spend your quarantine unemployment just sitting in your home. You were out there helping people and learning things.

That sounds really inspiring! Maybe you will also tell us about some particular cases more in detail? For instance, about some interesting volunteer projects that you helped with or some examples of your top achievement in Covid Tech Support.

For example, we had a homeless charity in London who contacted us to say they had a warehouse full of goods for homeless people, but they were having trouble with distributing because of the quarantine restrictions. So they asked us, “Could you create a website for us so that people can shop for the goods?” They wanted other charities and shelters to shop for goods that they could give to their local communities. Within a week, we managed to get together a team of people with web development experience and online e-commerce and put that website together and immediately started helping.

Another project I really liked was a charity in London that helps immigrant communities within London find other immigrants and get settled into society. They were a typical example of a charity that did everything in person, and all the fundraising was in person. They had a very real risk that they were going to have to shut down because their funding dried up.

One of our volunteers is a project manager who did an absolutely amazing job pulling a team together and getting this charity back on their feet. We helped them figure out how they could offer a lot of their services remotely. One of the reasons I like it is because they are an example of a service that I believe just wouldn’t exist now if Covid Tech Support hadn’t been able to help them out. 

We’ve helped 250 projects at this point. But I think there are a lot more stories like that amongst those.

Yes, these are the stories that definitely should be heard! And if it happens that the situation with Covid gets better, will you continue your activity with Covid Tech Support? Or will you transform it somehow?

It’s probably been the number one thing we talk about in the last couple of months. We’ve decided we do want to keep it. As long as there is a community of technical people who want to help, we’re going to be around. With that in mind, we’ve decided we’re probably going to rebrand ourselves because we don’t want to just be Covid Tech Support. 

I don’t know what we’re going to call ourselves yet, but we’re going to make it clear that it’s about long-term digital project support. We’re also now investigating fundraising and becoming a charity ourselves. We’ve never established ourselves as any kind of legal organization, but I think we’re getting to that point now.

Covid Tech Support is about long-term digital project support.

That’s great that you are determined to expand your project and help more and more charities around the world. I have one more question that is of particular interest to me. You know, usually, people use technologies for their own good. And while all of us use technology in our everyday routine, not all of us realize that technology can be used for global and long-term goals. How did you come to the idea that technology can be used for the common good?

When the pandemic started, a lot of people realized the world has changed. Suddenly, we lost things that we took for granted, like the ability to go out to the shops and take public transport. I’m someone who is very fortunate, and I don’t have any disability or any major problems in my life. And these things were affecting me in a negative way, and it just became very clear, “Wow, if it’s affecting me negatively, how must it be affecting vulnerable people and people who are in much worse situations than me?”

I think that was the same for a lot of people realizing that this is a very serious situation and there’s gonna be a lot of damage on the back of this. Being awoken to that made me think, “Well, what can I do? I’m not a medical person. There’s nothing I can directly help with. I’m not someone who works on the front line, but surely all this technical knowledge and experience I have must be useful for something”.

Being awoken to the pandemic problem made me think, “Well, what can I do? I’m not a medical person. There’s nothing I can directly help with. I’m not someone who works on the front line, but surely all this technical knowledge and experience I have must be useful for something”.

So that’s what prompted me then to find the few others and join this community early on. One of the things I’m probably proudest of with Covid Tech Support is learning that there’s a huge demand for technical skills. It’s just not very publicly known because the people who need it don’t know that they need it. I’ve seen it time and time again with hundreds of projects we’ve helped. I see how transformational it’s been for them to work with our volunteers. 

On top of that, it’s been transformational for the volunteers as well. The number of stories and people I spoke to said, “I loved working for the charity. I’m still working for them months later because it’s such a great project. Beyond the life of the original question request that they came in with, I continue to help them because it’s fantastic”.

Definitely! Helping others is the key to happiness! I have two more questions for you. What ethical values do you believe are the most important in today’s world?

That’s a great question. I believe one of the core values for Covid Tech Support is the idea of helping others, giving something. One of the things that this pandemic exposed was how much we depend on one another. When the basic services of society disappear, all you can rely on is your community. That’s another value – the power of community. 

In the case of Covid Tech Support, bringing together an online community from all over the world is also enormously powerful, along with making that community available to others. But this is only one of the things we spend a lot of time doing. I’d say only about 50% of our work is connecting volunteers to projects. The other 50% is fostering a sense of community within our volunteer group and promoting the work that’s being done. 

We have the Volunteer of the Month Award, where we pick someone who’s worked on multiple projects and delivered a huge amount of good and celebrate them. I make sure everyone is aware that these people exist. We have a newsletter that goes out with a Slack Group where everyone chats. For us, it’s about as much about fostering our community and making them aware of each other as it is about making them aware of the projects that we can support. 

On top of that, honesty and transparency are important as well. We try to be very upfront with our volunteers. We also make it clear to the projects we help that these aren’t employees. These are people giving their time, and they will need some flexibility. But everybody’s trying, everybody’s working hard, and that’s enough. 

Thank you for an interesting answer! The last question for you. Do you think society is ready for the Tech4Good movement?

It’s a really good question for a number of reasons. In general, society thinks that tech is for bad. Due to fake news and fake media, tech is no longer this geeky thing. I believeTech4Good is a fantastic way of reminding people that tech has enormous, enormous benefits. Yes, tech can be used for bad. But for the most part, tech helps society far more than it damages things. Promoting people’s technical efforts is a great way of addressing that as well. 

One of the things I’ve seen as I’ve been working on Covid Tech Support this year is other organizations doing a similar thing of collecting volunteers and addressing technical problems. For instance, there’s a version of Covid Tech Support in Scotland where they’re doing similar things. There’s one in America. We’ve all started to talk to each other and start to coordinate our efforts. 

On the back of this pandemic, I see a growing Tech4Good community that has started to accumulate projects, accumulate volunteers. That’s something that now continues to grow, and I am very proud that Covid Tech Support is a small part of that!

Do you need a development team to support your Tech4Good idea?

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The Leaders of Tech4Good: Meet Debra Ruh

Through the lens of Tech4Good, Debra explains why we have to be the change we want to see in the world.

In the sixth interview of our “The Leaders of Tech4Good” blog series, we are glad to introduce Debra Ruh, a recognized and well-known market influencer and inclusion strategist. Today, we talked about her success story, experience with gender equality and inclusion, ethical principles, and her view of Tech4Good as a way to help others.

Who is Debra Ruh?

Debra Ruh is a famous American advocate for the rights of women and people with disabilities. She is a founder of four social enterprises (Ruh Global, AXSChat, Strategic Performance Solutions (SPS), TecAccess) and an expert in the field of sustainable development, gender equity, digital inclusion, and impact investing. Being a successful businesswoman, Debra fulfills a vital social mission and uses technologies as a way to promote essential values. As she believes, the Tech4Good movement teaches people how technologies can be used to make the world a better place. Debra highlights, “We have to be the change we want to see in the world.” 

Our team was amazed by the volume of information about you on LinkedIn. So, my first question will be: how do you find time for all of these activities? How many hours do you have in a day?

Well, I wouldn’t tell you that I can do everything by myself. I have an incredible team around me. It’s a small team consisting of many younger people. The reason why that matters is that the younger generation is showing the older generation the way forward. They are showing us that we have to make society better. Technology is wonderful! But it has to be technology for good and technology for all. 

Today, people who want the world to work better and want to unite efforts seem to be finding each other. One more cool thing about what we are doing now is that it is good to know teams like yours. We all want to focus on Tech4Good, but we do not always know the teams that can help us to do it.

Totally agree. The more we collaborate, the more open-minded we become, and the more changes we can bring to the world. My second question will be about social justice issues. What has inspired you to fight for women’s rights?

When I was young, I was always told that my opinion did not matter. I want to make sure that younger people, especially younger women and people with disabilities, see that their voices are heard. Women don’t have to walk the same path as I walked

I think my generation needs to do a better job of inviting the younger people to have their voices heard. If you don’t like the way the world works now, what are you doing to make things better for others? 

Sounds really motivational. You have mentioned that when you were younger, you fully realized the problem of gender inequality. By the way, what is your success story? Maybe there was a person that helped you become who you are today or some experience you want to share?

Well, that is a very interesting question. When I was younger, people did not take me seriously because I was a woman, a young woman. And I am not just paranoid, I was told that. I was told, “Well, you are a woman. You know, you are so young.” I always felt discounted. A lot. 

I realized that the way I was treated by other women is unfair, as well as by men discounting me. Once, one man told me that my business would not be successful if I did not have a white male CEO. No one would take my business seriously. Yet, I reversed the impact. I saw how I was treated, and I did not want other people to be treated that way. I started making very deliberate efforts to help others. 

I was helping someone who was looking for a job, I was connecting people. For example, I had a young woman of color working as my administrative assistant. She was so smart. I worked really hard to help her to get promoted. Of course, I liked having her as an assistant, but I felt like my calling is bigger than that. It was more about helping her. So, I helped her. She got promoted, and then she started helping others. 

When I was pregnant, I was harassed by a woman that worked with me. I felt such pressure. I was bad in whatever I did: I was a bad mother, I was a bad worker. I did not get the mentoring, so I decided to give the mentoring. I think that my success has been that I help others be successful. When people help others, it makes them successful. So, be the change you want to see in the world. We have to be the lights forward. We have to help each other. 

So, be the change you want to see in the world. We have to be the lights forward. We have to help each other. 

That’s just so inspirational to hear. So far, you have at least four companies listed on your LinkedIn profile. Could you tell briefly about each of these companies? What do they do, and what is the global idea behind them? 

I started multiple companies, and TecAccess was the technology company focused on technology software development and web development with an emphasis on accessibility. We aimed to make sure that all these technologies are accessible. I merged this company with another one, so I am not a part of that entity anymore. 

I have Ruh Global Impact, which is my current company, and also AXSChat, which has been already mentioned. The first focuses on the global social impact. We spend a lot of time focusing on sustainable development goals, as well as diversity and inclusion, especially through the lens of disability inclusion. Unfortunately, technology is still not accessible to all people. 

AXSChat is a Tweet chat where we interview our guests. I created it together with two gentlemen: one is from Europe, Portugal, and one is now in London, the UK. It’s one of the largest and most successful Tweet chats in the world. We really believe that you need to have a deep global conversation about technology, accessibility, connectivity, and all these things that make technology good for all people. That’s what we do there. 

Very interesting, thanks for the answer. As I see, your life experience has made you fight for gender equity and female rights. But how did you understand the necessity to fight for digital inclusion for people with disabilities?

When I had my first daughter, my boss was very unsupportive of me. There are so many ways employers can be supportive of us as we walk life, but my employer was not very supportive. And it was unfortunate that on top of that, she was a woman. I am sorry, but I think women should try to understand what other women are walking. We need to support each other. 

My husband and I have been married for 38 years now. Our oldest daughter was born with down syndrome. I did not know anything about a down syndrome. The doctors did not diagnose her with down syndrome until she was four months old. By that time, they were telling me that my daughter was broken. But I knew she was interesting, creative, she was sweet. There are so many things about her! 

It started with my daughter. It started with society continuing to tell me that having a child with down syndrome is a pity. They started to pity us. I do not think that the universe of God, or whatever you believe, makes mistakes. My daughter’s life is valuable. She just lives a different life than other people. My daughter was the first catalyst. 

And also, my husband. He was hit by a drunk driver when he was a child. He died on the spot, and doctors brought them back. He was in a coma for a week and a half. It was a really bad accident. But he survived, went on to get married and have two children. Unfortunately, his brain was so damaged during that accident that now, it’s aging differently. He now has very severe dementia. 

As you see, we live our lives, and we are going to either be born with disabilities, or we are going to acquire disabilities. It’s not a threat. We are just human beings. We are all different. There is a beauty in diversity. I think the world works better when we appreciate these differences.

We are going to either be born with disabilities, or we are going to acquire disabilities. It’s not a threat. We are just human beings.

Your story deserves so much respect! Thank you for sharing it with us. Also, I wanted to ask you what role do the technologies play in the implementation of your values and ideas?

I love technology, and I think technology is beautiful. I was taught to love technologies by my father. He was a technologist for the whole life. Technology is a wonderful and great equalizer. But it also can do great damage to society, and we see it in what is happening nowadays. 

We have to humanize technology and use them to solve important problems. Technology needs to work for humans, and for our planet, and for the inhabitants of our planet. I really like it when corporate brands take technology and use it to improve the world’s largest or at least smallest problems. Technologies help us relate to each other. I think that the world cannot keep focusing only on making money. 

That’s true. And is there any way for the average person or the average Internet user to contribute to the promotion of gender equity and digital inclusion? Maybe some donation page or volunteership?

You know, we don’t have a donation page, but what we are doing now is trying to know each other better. The mistake of many countries is that they forget there are other countries outside of their border. And that’s wrong because we are human beings living on Earth. The more we come together and understand each other, the more we can help each other, and the more we can make our world a better place. 

We want more younger people involved, we want to work with blogging, we want to help others with content and to exchange information. We want to know who is doing good work. I think it is more about all of us coming together. 

The same concerns young women. We are told that women are the largest minority group in the world. That’s ridiculous! We are not the largest minority group – we are the largest group! I think the way we help each other is exactly what we are doing here. We get to know each other, we try to understand each other, we talk about it, and we join each other in making the world a better place.

Women are not the largest minority group – we are the largest group!

You are such an inspirational person! In your opinion, what ethical values are the most important in the world?

Oh, thank you. I think we have to be authentic. And sometimes, being authentic is very scary. People give me really weird looks because I have purple hair. We have these little things in our heads that sabotage is not cool. You have to be truly yourself, and you have to try to get out of your own head and not let your worries and fears stop you. 

I remember one guy that was about to become an entrepreneur. He said to me, “Debra, how did you get over being afraid?” And I said, “Well, I have fears. I can hardly mention all these things I am afraid of right now. One of them is my husband’s dementia. There are so many things I fear.” 

Apart from being authentic, we have to be empathetic. We should try to understand what other people are coming from and be more patient with each other. Even now, during the time of extreme stress, I noticed that people are being more aggressive than usual. I think that’s because they are so scared, and we have to be extra kind and extra empathetic for what people are walking right now. 

Recently, I was talking to someone staying in a really scary place. And I said, “All I want to tell you is what I have been told for so many times: if you want something, give it to someone else.” If you want help – help others. If you want love – shower others with love. You want somebody to be kind to you – be kind to somebody else. Give away what you don’t have and what you want. So, I would say the most important ethical values are empathy, authenticity, and the willingness to help each other.

If you want something, give it to someone else. If you want help – help others. If you want love – shower others with love. You want somebody to be kind to you – be kind to somebody else. Give away what you don’t have and what you want.

Thank you! Also, what do you think is the future of the Tech4Good movement? Do you think that we as a society are ready for it?

I do. People might not realize that society has changed, but it has. Tech4Good, Tech4ALL, connectivity, reducing the digital divide – all that has changed. More and more younger people are demanding these changes. They won’t work for you if you are a bad company. They don’t want to live in your country if you treat people wrong. They just do not want to do it anymore. And I believe that this is the future. 

My company is a social enterprise. And it was a social enterprise before we knew that title. Society promotes social enterprises. We do not mind people making money because the more money and profit they make, the more good they can do. Another question is when their only purpose is making money and they don’t care if their society benefits from technology. Such people are not among those who want to make the world a better place for all of the inhabitants. 

We need our people, animals, nature. We need the diversity on this planet. We live in a living entity. The planet is alive. Let’s take the time to protect it. I do not see a way forward if we do not focus on Tech4Good. Let’s support each other and promote positives, using them to make the world a better place. I want to be a part of the world where I can support everyone and help everyone, both men and women.

I do not see a way forward if we do not focus on Tech4Good. Let’s support each other and promote positives, using them to make the world a better place.

Thanks! And one more question for you. What are your nearest plans in this field? Is there some new goal in your mind?

Right now, we are working on a project that I am really excited about. It is a project for mentoring young people, with a special emphasis on young people with disabilities. We are currently working on a global mentoring program because I think having a mentoring program for just one country, once again, misses the point. 

In the global program, we come together and allow people to focus on what they are good at. My aim is to make sure that we hold the door for other, diverse communities. One of the ways to change the world is to give others a microphone. I want others to speak and to be heard. We have to be the change we want to see in the world. You have to make sure that you are giving your place to somebody else. These voices can give answers to the world’s problems. 

One of the ways to change the world is to give others a microphone. I want others to speak and to be heard.

We need to make technology help others to lead the world. The more we humanize through technologies and support each other, the more changes will happen. Whenever the universe puts us together, there is a reason. We have to share the way forward and help each other. We need your voices!

To Wrap Up

Technology is not only about connecting with friends through social media. It is about an essential social mission of making someone’s life more comfortable. Taking into account the vast opportunities that technologies can give, you should try to use them for more global purposes. The Tech4Good movement complies with this aim and encourages people to change their attitude towards the phenomenon of technologies. Inspiring others, Rebra Ruh uses technology to meet the needs of people with disabilities and harassed women. We think that her principles and life path are a really valuable example for those aiming to drive changes.

Do you need a development team to support your Tech4Good idea?

Our professionals would gladly join you in your endeavor. Learn more about us to understand if we can become a match.

Alex Pletnov Max Savonin CEO

The Leaders of Tech4Good: Meet Tey El-Rjula

We discuss how Tech4Good leaders may turn invisible people into invincible ones with the help of Bitcoin.

For the fifth interview in our “The Leaders of Tech4Good” blog series, we are talking with Tey El-Rjula, also known as the Invisible Man. This conversation promises to give us a unique insight into the lives of refugees, the struggles of invisible people, and the prospects of Bitcoin & Blockchain technology.

Who Is Tey El-Rjula?

Tey El-Rjula is a Bitcoin evangelist, a co-founder of the Tech4Good studio helping the invisible people, an avid TedX speaker, and a Syrian refugee. He became “invisible” when he was only 5 years old and his birth certificate was lost because of the ongoing war in Kuwait. Years later, when he resided in the Netherlands, he became invisible once again when his work contract was not renewed. Seeking asylum in a Dutch refugee camp, he found hope in his Bitcoin wallet. Today, he is working to help other invisible people find their ray of sunshine

On your LinkedIn page, it states that you started a tech4good company that helps others like you. Can you tell us more about what this company does, how it helps the others, and what role technology plays in it? How do you turn invisible people into invincible ones?

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Tey, but I usually introduce myself as the Invisible Man. The title “invisible” is given to people who do not have identity documents, specifically, who do not have a birth certificate. I was born in Kuwait, and in 1990, the Gulf War started. In this war, the birth registries were destroyed — burnt to the ground. The only chance for me and my family to survive was to leave Kuwait and go to Lebanon. So, I grew up in Lebanon, graduated from the university, and I worked in Dubai for seven years. At the beginning of 2010, I moved to the Netherlands. I was working there as a software trainer — I learned about software innovations in the market and I taught them to companies. But in 2014, my job contract was not renewed, and the only chance for me to stay in the Netherlands was to apply for asylum. My father is Syrian, and so am I. In 2014, there was a war in Syria, so I could not go back. 

In the asylum camp, I felt what it was to be without an identity, I felt what it was like to be an invisible person, the person without an ID. The only things I had were my clothes, my phone, my Internet connection, and my Bitcoin wallet. I used that Bitcoin wallet to order pizza to the camp because I remember that the first physical product ever sold for Bitcoin was pizza. I opened the Internet and found the website of a local restaurant where you could pay for your pizza with Bitcoin. And this was a big victory! As asylum seekers or refugees, we have cash in our pockets that would allow us to buy pizza, but cash cannot move online. No restaurant was okay to send me a pizza to the camp before I paid upfront for it. Bitcoin helped me achieve that goal — I could order pizza with this type of digital money. Could I do something else with it? That is where the motive for working for Bitcoin started. I did translation jobs, and I got paid in Bitcoin. I did content creation jobs, and I got paid in Bitcoin. 

Today, we are living in a world where hundreds of millions of people have been forced into a situation similar to what I was in exactly five years ago. While I was confined in my space in the camp, people today are confined in the comfort of their houses and homes. Everyone studies online, and, in the camp, I did my Master’s in Digital Currencies and Blockchain Technology online. Everyone works online, and so did I in the camp. Those three pillar points replicate my experience five years ago, and today, it is a feeling that everyone is experiencing.

Meanwhile, some countries around the world like Lebanon, Zimbabwe, or Venezuela have problems with their local currencies. They cannot transact their local currencies, they cannot use their local currencies, the banks put restrictions on them. So again, it is a similar situation to an asylum seeker in any camp being excluded from financial services. I thought, “It is time to start something to cater to people who do not have an identity, to bring them into the online economy. Bitcoin plays a major role in this quest.”

It is time to start something to cater to people who do not have an identity, to bring them into the online economy. Bitcoin plays a major role in this quest.

So, I am working for a financial company, which is called “Fluus”, which is “money” in Arabic. Our company helps people to send and to receive money across borders. We rely on the Bitcoin network to break the barriers that existing social institutions are placing on people. We are focusing on Lebanon as a market because Lebanon is going through very difficult, tough times in terms of financial stability and financial access. Since 2019, Lebanon has made zero progress on improving the financial inclusion rate. Banks are putting restrictions on depositors, so it does not matter if you are rich or poor in Lebanon anymore. If you have money in a Lebanese bank, that money does not belong to you because you cannot use it. If you have cash at home, it is devaluing at a very alarming rate. Last year, when I visited Lebanon, I could buy a Manouche — a famous flatbread with some toppings on it — for 1,500 Lebanese pounds, and the same product today would cost me a minimum of 4,000 Lebanese pounds. Some products like a bottle of juice, which used to cost 250 Lebanese pounds for almost as long as I remember living in Lebanon, today have doubled in price. The prices of goods and services are increasing. Money transfers cannot be cashed out in US dollars but can be cashed out in Lebanese pounds at a rate that the central bank is enforcing. So, if I sent a hundred dollars to my parents in Lebanon, what I get there would be around 3,000–3,200 Lebanese pounds per dollar. But when they go to a supermarket, they would be paying at the rate of 4,000 Lebanese pounds per dollar. Bitcoin could help to create some sort of more liquid economy in Lebanon. Of course, there is a steep learning curve for people in Lebanon to use it massively. Yet, through a very simple user experience, we hope that we could soften this steep learning curve and bring financial services to Lebanon outside the banking system, outside regulators, and free for everyone to use.

So, you are working to educate people on how to work with Bitcoin, right

We are working simultaneously on both ends. We try to educate people on why to use Bitcoin and how to use it. At the same time, we bring a product that hides all these complexities from an average user.

But is Bitcoin legalized in Lebanon

It is a gray area so far. There is no law in Lebanon that says that Bitcoin is legal and no law that says that you are not allowed to hold or use Bitcoin. I spoke with lawyers, and they say that, if you want to hold Bitcoin, there are absolutely no issues with that. But you cannot use it as a currency, as an alternative to the US dollar.

As I always say, legal issues will appear in two cases, and these are the two extreme cases. Case number one: if you are too big and too successful, the regulators will come to check on you. Case number two: if you are doing fraud, and other people report your fraud to the regulators, then the regulators will come to check on you as well. In both extreme cases, whether you are too successful or you are engaged in criminal activity, then you are under the scrutiny of regulators. But if you are growing at a reasonable pace and trying to avoid the touchpoints with the regulator — not to do excessive marketing, not to challenge the regulators, not to be too vocal about Bitcoin, — it can work.

We cannot avoid legal aspects, and therefore, we engage with the regulators on a diplomatic level. We explain that this technology is good for the country and good for the people. In fact, the central bank of Lebanon in the words of its governor supports innovative technologies and digital currencies.

As far as I am aware, to mine Bitcoin, you have to have sophisticated hardware and stable Internet connection. In most developing countries including Lebanon, most people would not have that. How do you solve that kind of challenge

Lebanon does not have electricity at all. For thirty years, we have been dreaming about having electricity 24/7 in our country, but still, we do not see it. Therefore, Lebanon is not a great market to mine Bitcoin unless you are stealing electricity from the government, which actually happens a lot. We do not mine Bitcoin there, but we can transfer it to Lebanon.

What are your plans and achievements with the project

What we have achieved so far: today, communities are running our services through Telegram and WhatsApp groups. We educate people and equip them with basic tools to transact bitcoin, in addition to facilitating buying and selling of cryptocurrencies through these groups. We act as an escrow, and the services that we provide to Lebanese people are escrow services — we can protect our users from fraud and bring some confidence to the facilitation of peer to peer payments in the market. I can say that about two hundred households in Lebanon receive money from their relatives living abroad, in Australia, Canada, or Europe through Bitcoin. Once these families get their Bitcoin, they can transfer it to our escrow accounts, and we facilitate the exchange of these Bitcoins into cash. As for plans, we are trying to build partnerships with the tech companies in the US and in Europe, so they could pay their employees or freelancers from Lebanon in Bitcoin as well. On the demand side of the Bitcoin economy in Lebanon, we engage with SMEs and explain to them that, if they use Bitcoin, they can pay for their Amazon licenses, Netflix subscriptions, and even import goods or services. There is a huge list of services that accept bitcoin as payment.

On your LinkedIn page, you position your company as a Tech4Good company. What do you think is the future of the Tech4Good movement? Do you think that the global community is ready for it

I can honestly tell you that the future going forward is only with Tech4Good companies. Today, we are realizing that the way we live has to change. Whether we are looking at cultural identity, at health implications of the pandemic, or at the identity barriers — all these obstacles do not let us live in a comfortable environment. We have to look at the good side of our jobs and understand what good we are creating for our environment and for our communities. Let’s say, in the birth registration scenario, there are 29,000,000 children under the age of 5 who do not have a birth certificate similar to mine. I bet I made you count the zeros.

The only change in this scenario is the following. Most families of these invisible children do not have money to pay for birth certificates or to pay for taxis to go between five different locations and obtain the birth certificate. Even if they had some money, the inflation of their currency would put barriers against them registering their children.

By using bitcoin we can pay upfront for the birth registration costs. With the help of our peers in Lebanon, we can help them. We never know what these children will be when they grow up. One of them may be the greatest criminal, and we facilitated this process of him becoming one. Or he can be a genius, who will invent a cure for the most difficult diseases on Earth, and we facilitated his development. Those two extreme cases are pure speculation. But what we know for sure is that humans by their nature are a driver of the good force — they are good in their nature. That birth certificate grants the child the right to go to school, to receive healthcare, and to be a full-fledged citizen. With education and healthcare, the chances are high that this person will grow to be a good person, not a criminal. We always bet on the good nature of people — this is the driver of the Tech4Good companies and initiatives.

What we know for sure is that humans by their nature are a driver of the good force  — they are good in their nature.

That is very refreshing to hear that people are a good force. Most often, we as humans are called “the most dangerous animals” or “the parasites of Earth”

I mean, we were able to go to space with a recyclable rocket. The actions against racism that we see, the actions against COVID-19, how communities come together — these are proofs. Every time there is a crisis, people are coming together. Sure, there are some of us who are on the opposite side of this goodness spectrum, but this is not the majority — the majority are good. Lebanon with all its turmoils has been the most tolerant of refugees, despite rising voices of “send them back” chants every now and then. Lebanon is an example of hospitality, and this small piece of geography welcomed 1.5 the number that both Germany and Holland host.

That is true. My next question is, what ethical values do you believe are the most important in today’s world?

The most important ethical values are the non-aggression principles. Forcing aggression on people is a very dangerous and unacceptable thing to do. We built our company, our technology on non-aggression principles. Of course, ethics is subjective. Still, there are some parts of it that all human beings agree on, and one of them is not to put aggressive force against each other, not to use technologies to threaten each other. Privacy is also very important, that is why, in our company, we enable a peer-to-peer exchange where we collect no personal data at all. Abiding by non-aggression principles is a good starting point to build an ethical Tech4Good startup.

When I watched your videos from TedX, it became crystal clear that your childhood was beyond difficult. What would you recommend to your younger self?

To be honest, I enjoyed how I grew up. The way I grew up and the stories that I experienced made me the guy that I am today. If I could give myself a piece of advice, I would say “enjoy the time you have with your friends and family, pay more attention in school or in university, and understand that, no matter how difficult things are, unless you are dead, there is always an exit”. Life is worth fighting for, and regardless of the situation, there is always a way out. 

And my last question. What advice would you give to the people that find themselves in similar life hardships that you experienced five years ago?

The moment when I started embracing who I am, embracing my story, and the moment that I learned how to tell my story, the things started to change. But it really started with embracing who I am. I had a big challenge in my life accepting the fact that I am a Syrian refugee, and I was very ashamed of that. The moment I accepted my identity, I became more confident and free. Another thing, I never wasted an opportunity to tell my story. Every time I have an opportunity, on the train or in an elevator, I tell people my story.

In those difficult times, I switched my mentality by going to my roots and counting my blessings. When I was in the camp, I was thinking that this was the end of the world for me. Nothing could become better for me as for a Syrian refugee in a Dutch camp. I was thinking of going back to Syria and just dying there while fighting in the war. Basically, I was thinking of suicide. But then, I remembered that I lived in my own house in the Netherlands, I had a car, a motorcycle, a dog, a job that paid me well, I partied every Saturday — I lived life at its best. When I heard the stories of other refugees about how they came to the Netherlands to apply for asylum, I realized how lucky I was. They crossed the sea, they were stranded in the sea for days without water and food. Some of them even came swimming after their boats sank, some of them came walking from Greece to the Netherlands, and some of them had bullets still in their legs. Meanwhile, I left my apartment, I took a train, I was eating a hamburger, and I went to apply for asylum. I was driving up and having fun before applying for asylum, while others were packed like sardines in a small boat with no water, praying that they would make it to safety. This was a switching moment for me. When I started counting my blessings, this changed everything. I am safe, I am in the Netherlands, not in Syria, I am not captured or forced into the military, my parents are safe, what more would I ask for?

So, when you start accepting who you are and counting your blessings, looking at what you have in your hands, you find a way out. Then, you analyze your weaknesses and find people who are strong and complete these weaknesses. This is how you make everything work.

When you start accepting who you are and counting your blessings, looking at what you have in your hands, you find a way out. Then, you analyze your weaknesses and find people who are strong and complete these weaknesses. This is how you make everything work.

To Wrap Up

The story of Tey El-Rjula proves that there is nothing impossible for the people who are willing to fight against circumstances. You can watch him tell his own story in this TedX video. Hopefully, Tey and his team succeed in their precious endeavor of making the lives of people in Lebanon and other war zones a bit easier. 

We hope that you found this interview to be inspiring and insightful! See you soon, and subscribe to our blog not to miss anything.

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