Responding to the Ukraine crisis

At Humans in the Loop, we started working back in 2017 in order to help address the Syrian refugee crisis and to provide support to the large numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans arriving in Bulgaria. Gradually, we also started providing support to the countries of origin of these refugees, recognizing that sometimes those who flee receive much more support through integration programs and humanitarian aid than those who remain or are internally displaced in their own countries.

In the beginning of 2022, the world was shocked to witness the military invasion of Ukraine and to realize that yet another large-scale refugee crisis was underway. As an organization which is committed to supporting conflict-affected communities, we had to find the best way to complement existing efforts and to support those Ukrainians who are most vulnerable right now. 

For this purpose, we sought to connect with a local partner who would have the necessary expertise in digital skills trainings and who would be able to provide the operational management of our programs on the ground. We identified the Beetroot Academy as the perfect fit, given their track record of supporting Ukrainians to build up their IT skills and their ongoing programs targeted towards women.

a map showing HITL partners
Our partner network

Meet Beetroot Academy

Beetroot Academy is a Swedish-Ukrainian social enterprise which has been active for 7 years across different cities in Ukraine. It aims to help people have great careers in the digital economy, regardless of who they are and where they are from. The primary service provided by the academy is IT training spanning over 4 months and comprising flipped classes, live classes, soft skills development, career support and community building.

Beetroot academy logo

The large-scale pilot of Humans in the Loop and Beetroot Academy in Ukraine was funded by the UN and impacted a total of 84 individuals, all of whom are women. They took part of an extensive annotation training program in image collection, tags, bounding boxes, polygons, and semantic segmentation in addition to live sessions and professional advice. The participants were split into 4 cohorts throughout the year, and 49 out of them graduated successfully. 29 out of those went through 2 different paid annotation projects which gave them the opportunity to practice their skills in a real-life practice project, and to also build up their portfolios as freelancers on Upwork. Despite many challenges, such as continuous electricity cuts, the participants showed a lot of determination to complete the program and succeed online.


Aside from annotation training, Humans in the Loop cooperated with Beetroot Academy in order to enable conflict-affected people to join Upwork’s program Opportunity Unlimited. This program, organized by Upwork and the Tent Partnership for Refugees, has the objective of supporting talent displaced and affected by war to access digital work opportunities through Upwork. As part of the program, 2 cohorts were organized with a dedicated Upwork coach and a workspace on the Upwork Academy where trainees could learn how to improve their profiles and maximize their chances of getting a job online. They were also given access to live sessions once a week with the Upwork coach to answer any questions they have on how to best work on Upwork. A total of 79 people participated in the program, 80% of whom were women, and 18 graduated successfully.

We are looking forward to expanding our partnership with Beetroot Academy in 2023 and beyond in order to provide much needed support to Ukrainians who are displaced by the war or who are currently living in the areas that are worse affected by armed conflict. We are grateful for the opportunity to work together and to impact even more people by giving them access to remote digital jobs.


Stay tuned for more news.

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