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A man rides a bicycle in front of an apartment building that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo by AP.

War as Impact Investment: Under Bombardment, Startup Pitches Investors’ Social Conscience

By  |  March 10, 2022 6:00 AM PST
Photo: A man rides a bicycle in front of an apartment building that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo by AP.

In late-February, Kyiv-based All Right, an online language-tutoring startup geared toward kids and teens, was just about to lock down a fresh investment, said its founder Oleg Oksyuk. Then came the Russian invasion, and the investor pulled out.

The startup soon had another problem: About half of All Right’s revenue comes from customers in Russia, where it’s both unwilling and unable to do business right now. Oksyuk is now making a pitch to venture capitalists to raise up to $10 million at a $60 million valuation, pivoting the business toward the European market. His target: ed-tech and impact investors who look to generate social benefits as well as financial gains.

“You can do good by investing in a sustainable business and supporting a Ukrainian company during Russian military aggression,” the startup’s pitch reads, a copy of which was shared with The Information.

The war has become a flashpoint for socially minded investors and has ratcheted up pressure on the biggest companies in the world to cut business ties with Russia. In terms of Ukraine, however, the dialogue has largely focused on donations as opposed to local investments, so All Right’s pitch offers an unusual test case.

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