YesHelp: Helping Displaced Ukrainians in Need

Non-profit organization YesHelp developed an app to partner displaced Ukrainians with volunteers

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, companies and individuals scrambled to find ways to help. The devastating effects of the war spread globally. 

“One-third of our team is from Ukraine,” says Mark Angelo, CEO of OneIQ, a full-stack intelligence platform company located in Ontario, Canada. “We wanted to help immediately.”

Angelo’s first idea was to donate to a global non-profit organization that provides emergency assistance in a crisis. But he wanted to do more.

“We looked at our skill sets as a company and realized that we could do so much more with our deep expertise in building scalable software for a lot of users,” says Angelo.

Angelo paused the commercial business and sectioned off a portion of his company to found YesHelp, a non-profit aimed to help Ukrainians—specifically displaced Ukrainian women and children—find support in a new country. The non-profit aims to safely connect displaced people with volunteers to get essentials like donations, shelter, transportation, translation, childcare, and pet care.

Through their research and interviews with displaced Ukrainians who have left or planned to leave the country, Angelo, and his team set out to build a platform that would be useful for both displaced Ukrainians and volunteers.

“We knew we wanted to build a mobile app because most likely people were not carrying large computers across the Ukrainian border,” says Angelo. “But volunteers probably had access to computers. So, we wanted to have an interface that would work on both mobile and computer hardware.”

But the team faced one major challenge. They didn’t have experience building native mobile apps.

The Challenge: Build a mobile app with limited time and experience

The team at YesHelp had big ideas for their mobile app.

“We wanted to make sure the Ukrainians using the app would feel safe and comfortable,” says Angelo. “We had the idea to include an in-app translator since most of the volunteers don’t speak languages spoken by Ukrainians.”

They also had a specific timeline to get it done. Since help was needed immediately, there was no time to waste.

“We wanted to help as many people as quickly as possible. And we needed technology that would help us make this happen.”

Co-founder and CTO at OneIQ and YesHelp Oleg Grodzevich—one of the many employees from Ukraine—came across Ionic and realized the possibilities that came with building mobile apps using web technology. With this in mind, the development team at YesHelp got to work.

The Solution: Hybrid app development to serve both parties

Grodzevich used his team’s existing knowledge of web development to get started building their new app.

“Without Ionic it would have taken forever, or we would have had to find a new developer who knew native languages,” Grodzevich says. “We just didn’t have that kind of time or resources.”

The team built out their app using Capacitor—Ionic’s open-source native runtime for building Web Native apps—and Ionic SDK to build across iOS and Android devices. They also leveraged App flow to build their CI/CD pipeline to get app updates deployed quickly and efficiently.

“We built once and specified the presentation, but the core of the software can be used on laptop, desktop, and mobile,” says Grodzevich. 

Through Ionic technology, the team understood the different best practices that drive native app development. 

Ionic reinforces good engineering with its tooling. It’s not just about using this or that library. Ionic makes you better at building software.

Mark Angelo, CEO of OneIQ

Angelo notes that beyond the products, Ionic offered the support he and his team needed to execute their mission.

“It’s one thing to have good technology, but it’s another thing to have a great team,” says Angelo. The Ionic Advisory team has been very helpful and responsive. That’s the kind of team you want to have in your corner—a super responsive, super talented, super engaging team backing up the technology.”

The Result: Building a critical app that scales

prismic image

The YesHelp team just launched their Android and iOS apps. In total, core functionality took about fifteen weeks.

“In a time of war, we needed to move fast. Ionic’s powerful technology accelerated our ability to execute on a tight timeframe and build across platforms in a fraction of the time,” states Angelo.

The team at YesHelp is dedicated to continuing their efforts to be a strong support system for people in need. With the launch of their new app, partnering displaced Ukrainian women and children with volunteers efficiently will become a reality.

“When there is such a crisis, it’s very important to not only respond quickly but to build something that scales and works across different platforms,” says Angelo. 

“With a great development team like ours at YesHelp and an accelerator like Ionic, the pace of innovation you can achieve is simply extraordinary.”

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