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Coming Together Through Distance

It seems like these last few months are a special edition of Black Mirror, somewhat like a Bandersnatch episode. Only this time, we’re not making tough decisions using our remotes, we’re facing them in real life.

The crisis that hit almost simultaneously every country in the world, showed how all people are connected and depend on each other. Here at Tesonet, we have a saying, “Think globally, act globally,” when it comes to our work but today it gained a different, deeper meaning. That’s why besides taking care of our employees, we also wanted to do something for the ones fighting in the front lines these days – the medical community. In just two hours, together with the Lithuanian tech community, we managed to raise 200K Euros without any detailed plan. And in the next 48 hours, we had 400K+ raised.

A testimony of unity from the Lithuanian tech community

We started at point-blank, without any clear plan in mind. There simply was no time to think, it was time to act. Despite not having any experience with such initiatives, one of our co-founders started calling local businessmen and friends, just to see if the idea had any interest. And in a matter of minutes, a list started to form. The people he called didn’t require any plan or answers, they simply said, “Count us in,” and didn’t second guess their decision.

While talking to them, we were discussing not only the financial support but also where to get the supplies from. This was the trickiest part because many countries were buying masks, respirators, and protective clothing at the same time as we did. Without a supply resource, the money alone wouldn’t help that much. Luckily, one acquaintance approached us saying that he has a reliable supplier in China and he could help us out. It seemed like things were looking up, and we started researching hospitals that are experiencing a shortage of medical supplies, so we could estimate the size of the project.

Very quickly it was clear that this is going to be a huge one. First of all, hospital needs were growing and changing almost every hour because of an unknown situation, and that meant that we needed more resources than we anticipated. Secondly, we had to make sure the Chinese supplier is truly reliable and supplies are high-quality (since there were so many scammers online already). And third, we had to think about how we’re going to get the goods to Lithuania and distribute them.

So, once again but this time publicly, we turned to our tech community looking for support and found it big time. One after another, companies started coming together – from friends of our Lithuanian tech community to even foreign business partners – they all wanted to join this initiative and trusted us to navigate the process. No meetings, even no phone calls were needed to discuss – they just gave their promise to join forces via Messenger/WhatsApp. However, the project was still growing, things were getting more serious and once we surpassed 350K, the decision was made to cooperate with a charity fund, so it could administrate the payments and maintain transparency throughout the process.

Now, all we had to do was to take care of delivery and quality. When it came to quality, once again, using our contacts, we found people in China who could go and meet the supplier to see the condition of medical supplies for themselves. It was all checked and approved by them, we received a green light from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, and were theoretically ready to make an order. However, logistics was still a huge issue for us. We were checking different transportation scenarios: from DHL, trains to local and global multi-service aviation holdings to find the best way to quickly get the supplies to Lithuania. We needed to find a way to ship the goods avoiding any stops. However, this wasn’t possible for all orders.

Our team dedicated the weekend to search for transportation, communicate with suppliers, and recalculate the orders. Finally, we placed at least 3 different orders and received preliminary delivery dates. On Monday, hospitals started providing more detailed requirement lists with particular things that are needed. Because the fundraised amount continued to grow, any additional money that wasn’t used for ordering protective gear was spent on additional medical equipment (like tests or machines for the emergency rooms). With orders placed, all left to do now is to receive them and distribute everything to the medical institutions.

Making a difference through our experience

Hope our story and experience will inspire others to take leadership and take action no matter where you are. Companies don’t need to be the size of Google to make a difference. As businesses and as individuals, we have the freedom today to travel, establish companies and access various global resources. But all this comes with great responsibility and now, we need to help the frontlines of our healthcare globally.

We did it our way, but we feel it’s important to share a few helpful things to get you started as well.

Don’t think too long, act fast. Right now every minute is crucial, so the longer you plan to make a plan, the more you lose. Just start talking to people around you and sharing your ideas – you’ll be surprised how quickly they can turn into reality.

There’s always a guy who knows a guy. Our communities today are more interconnected than you might think. Even if you don’t have a name for a supplier yourself, there’ll be someone who can point you in the right direction.

Trust your community. Social distancing teaches us to keep to ourselves, but when it comes to helping others, you can do more when you’re working together with trusted businesses, friends, etc. Trust the help, knowledge, and expertise their offering – we are stronger together.

Involve smaller businesses and individuals. It’s hard to remember any other time when people would come together and wished to help like today. However, seeing how huge companies are contributing to the crisis, can make others feel a bit useless and overwhelmed. But keep in mind that even those small donations can turn into large sums of money that can be used for good. In our case, 70+ individuals/smaller businesses joined our initiative and donated money to buy medical supplies. So involve as many people and companies as you can!

Talk about what you’re doing. We don’t mean with your friends or family, but publicly too. Use the power of social media. Post on your Facebook, IG stories, tweet – spread the word about your initiative around the world. Now is not the time for good quiet deeds.