For almost all of last year, Ukraine was at war. What was the year 2022 like for the Leo Foundation? How did the war affect the focus of the Foundation's charitable initiatives?

Daria Kotul: Until February 24, 2022, the main focus of the foundation's work was systematic and situational assistance to Ukrainian medical institutions, support and cooperation with educational institutions, and assistance to orphanages. With the start of the full-scale invasion, the situation changed, as support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine became a priority. However, we do not forget about initiatives for the civilian population.

Which projects do you personally remember as the most successful?

Daria Kotul: Among the critical cases, I can single out “U rytmi sercia” together with the Dobrobut Foundation. The idea is to pay for low-invasive surgical interventions for children with congenital heart disease. We were able to cover 10% of the necessary surgeries in Ukraine.

Another project is UA24/7, within which we promptly respond to requests from representatives of the Armed Forces, volunteers, and citizens to purchase necessary items and ammunition for the military. This includes medicines, turnstiles, tactical first aid kits, clothing, and other equipment.

In 2022, we also conducted training for military personnel and civilians, including our employees. These courses taught how to provide emergency first aid to the wounded.

We support Odesa Maternity Hospital No. 1 in purchasing all the necessary medicines, food for women in labor, and equipment, as this hospital is the main hospital for the Odesa region. In the most challenging times, this institution received not only residents but also temporarily displaced persons from the occupied and frontline territories, such as the Mykolaiv region.

Our joint project with IBOX BANK is the construction of artesian water wells in Mykolaiv hospitals. This initiative was implemented thanks to the inspiration of the Leo Foundation's founder Alyona Shevtsova and the Vitaliy Kim Charitable Foundation. Modern purification equipment was installed in five Mykolaiv hospitals, and the wells became a source of high-quality drinking water for all residents of Mykolaiv.

Tell us about your most promising collaborations with partners. Which of them has brought the most tangible results?

Daria Kotul: We are proud of all our collaborations and are happy to cooperate with people of goodwill. However, I consider cooperation with the CO “Kyiv volonterskyy” within the framework of “Zroby teplo” to be good. We make trench candles that we send to the military at the front line, and the last batch goes to the guys and girls in Bakhmut.

We also have a joint project with MFT to produce eco-friendly toothpaste for the military, internally displaced persons, and low-income families.

It's worth mentioning our cooperation with “Kyiv volonterskyy”, in which we joined the Kids for Kids project by placing boxes in our offices in Kyiv, Lviv, and Warsaw to collect gifts for Ukrainian children from the reoccupied territories, orphans, young hospital patients, and displaced children.

We are currently working with ITTFUND. Last month, Leo Foundation joined the fundraising for winter packs for our military and made a donation of $1000. These are unique packages with essential winter gear for the military. The first 30 sets have already been sent to the soldiers. We are also planning another collaboration with them, where we will develop an art therapy project for children in wartime.

We have started cooperation with the German foundation Ukraine Help Now, a non-profit association headquartered in Bad Homburg, Germany, which provides direct assistance to clinics, hospitals, and other humanitarian organizations and regional government institutions in Ukraine.

In December, a batch of humanitarian aid for medical institutions was transported to Ukraine with the help of the Leo Foundation, headed by Alyona Shevtsova. The parcel included unique adjustable beds, medical supplies, and other equipment needed by Ukrainian doctors.

How much does the state promote charity? What needs to be improved in the public sector so that foundations and volunteers can work more effectively?

Daria Kotul: We need to improve our legislation. In particular, the issue of delivering humanitarian aid from abroad needs to be regulated. As you know, it can be different, from medicines to cars and special cargo. Everything should be regulated. The government should assist foundations in charity and not slow down aid projects. Sometimes you encounter bureaucracy when paperwork or staying at the border takes a lot of time, so I would like to simplify these procedures.

Leo Foundation was nominated as the “Charity Project of the Year”. Tell us about this award, and how did you manage to achieve such results?

Daria Kotul: In October 2022, we participated in the GRC HR Brand Award in the “Charity Project of the Year” nomination. Initially, in 2021, the Leo Foundation project was created for our employees who regularly engaged in charity. It was a lifestyle for many of my colleagues at the international payment system LEO. One foundation allowed us to unite hundreds of people in our team and increase the effectiveness of our actions because it is much more challenging to help alone.

After February 24, the Leo Foundation turned from a hobby into a structured system of assistance to the military, IDPs, and medical institutions. We have volunteers and regular benefactors and have expanded the scope of our activities by cooperating with a German foundation for the first time. Over the past year, a lot has been done, and we report on each project on the Foundation's website and social media.

I think that Leo Foundation has earned a place among other charitable initiatives of Ukrainian businesses. The Foundation has given hope for the best to many children, students, IDPs, and the military. We worked with all categories of people who needed our help. Of course, we are not stopping there and are ready to present new projects and initiatives of the Leo Foundation in 2023.

What exactly do you plan to develop in 2023? What are your plans for the future?

Daria Kotul: The priority is medical care and rehabilitation of war victims. In addition, we plan to develop areas of assistance for the army and IDPs. We will continue to visit orphanages and organizations that the Leo Foundation supports regularly.

Separately, in 2023, we plan a charity collaboration with a clothing brand and a charity brunch. We want to involve other organizations and hold a discussion panel to share experiences. We are also planning to hold educational lectures at Ukrainian universities with the support of the Foundation, inviting well-known lecturers — psychologists, doctors, diplomats, etc.