MessageBird launches an NGO fund of 8.92 million euros; joins Ali Niknam (bunq), Joris Beckers (Picnic) to help those affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war

MessageBird, an Amsterdam-based cloud communications platform, announced on Monday that it has launched MessageBird.org, a $10 million enterprise fund.

The development comes at a time when MessageBird has taken a strong and public stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the start. The company has a hub based in Ukraine and has provided safe accommodation and transportation for its employees based there.

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MessageBird also participated in the launch of a private NGO called “People for People”, specially formed to help Ukrainians. This represents the mutual efforts of the founders of the three biggest Dutch “unicorns” – Ali Niknam from bunq, Joris Beckers from Picnic and MessageBird founder and CEO Robert Vis.

Why this initiative

MessageBird Founder and CEO Robert Vis says: “As someone born in Europe, I feel it is my duty to speak publicly about a war that is taking place on its borders and to show my support for the peace. For me, I have a responsibility, as part of a new generation of tech founders and CEOs, to speak up and make my voice heard. We must all leverage our influence and technological capabilities to promote global peace and make it clear that we live in a world where consequences flow from such actions.

The Amsterdam-based company said it would impose its own sanctions on its Russian customers by shutting down API access to their platform, blocking SMS and voice traffic to Russian carriers by their global customer base, and redirecting all humanitarian and NGO communications traffic via international roaming agreements.

Robert Vis adds: “It takes money to provide the right humanitarian aid to people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. But beyond Ukraine, we are looking to expand our communication capabilities for other crisis situations as well as hiring and educating refugees or providing our services to other NGOs. It’s a constant battle we face.

How will the funds be used?

The first $100,000 will be used to help Ukrainian and Russian refugees get to safety and offer visas. The funds will also be invested in innovative peacekeeping initiatives, provide a platform to help coordinate the humanitarian efforts of the global tech community, and will also be invested in mental health programs around major crisis situations.

MessageBird.org will use the initial $10 million to roll out over the next 24 months, though it’s ambitious to raise more capital once it proves its model. It will use a Dutch foundation mechanism called AMBI certification in order to raise third-party capital and comply with the strict transparency requirements necessary to hold this certification.

An omnichannel communication platform

MessageBird is a cloud communication platform that connects businesses to their global customers. The company was founded in 2011 by Adriaan Mol and Robert Vis.

In 2021, the company launched Inbox.ai, which allows customers to communicate with businesses virtually through any channel they choose, including – WhatsApp, SMS, Voice, Messenger, Instagram, WeChat, RCS, Line and Telegram.

The company’s product line also includes a chat widget and a feed builder. The Chat Widget converts static pages into dynamic conversations. While Flow Builder is an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) platform that allows the creation of automatic replies and the routing of messages. These services are also available through API or Application Programming Interface for easier integration with different platforms.

With over 700 employees, MessageBird says its global business reaches over 7 billion devices, serves over 25,000 customers and operates across 10 hubs. Its customers include Lufthansa Airlines, Heineken, Hugo Boss, Rituals Cosmetics and SAP, as well as fast-growing disruptors such as Uber, HelloFresh and Deliveroo.

The company has offices in Amsterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, Bogota, London, Shanghai, Dublin, Hamburg and Sydney.

people for people

Three Dutch tech entrepreneurs have come together to help those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Ali Niknam of bunq, Joris Beckers of Picnic and Robert Vis of MessageBird created the “People for People” foundation to shelter refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The foundation was created after bunq received a huge amount of messages in response to a LinkedIn message that Niknam posted earlier this weekend. Former TransIP CFO Pieter Jan van Krevel will develop and oversee the foundation in his role as director. All concerned or anyone who can provide shelter or wish to support the foundation can contact the organization through the official website.

The initiative will help refugees from Ukraine and Russia and is currently studying the effectiveness of the various support actions it can implement. According to a statement, the foundation is already equipped to temporarily house refugees in hotels and apartments in Bulgaria and Georgia. In addition, People for People is also considering bringing them into the Netherlands on a work visa.

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