Google Maps Opens Doors for Ukrainian Startups Amidst War

google maps opens doors for ukrainian startups amidst war.jpg Business

In the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Vladyslav Lysenko found himself staring at the ruins of his egg warehouse outside Kyiv. Russian soldiers had occupied the building for weeks, decimating his stock. This unfortunate event, however, sparked an idea in Lysenko. A dream of opening a restaurant that had long been dormant was suddenly ignited, and he decided to take a leap of faith amidst the chaos of war.

Teaming up with Ukrainian "MasterChef" finalist Ivan Kozyr, Lysenko opened Svitlo Café in May, a modern Ukrainian eatery nestled in the basement of a historic building in the city of Dnipro. Yet, establishing a restaurant during wartime came with its own unique set of challenges. From curfews and staff shortages to logistical issues in moving produce around the country, not to mention a drastically altered digital environment, Lysenko had to navigate through unprecedented obstacles.

Opening Restaurants during War: A Tale of Ukrainian Resilience

In the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many Ukrainian businesses were left devastated. Vladyslav Lysenko, owner of an egg warehouse outside Kyiv, saw his stock destroyed by occupying Russian soldiers. This unfortunate event led to an unexpected opportunity for Lysenko, who had always dreamed of opening a restaurant.

Hatching a Plan Amidst War

After meeting Ivan Kozyr, a Ukrainian "MasterChef" finalist, Lysenko decided to pursue his dream despite the ongoing conflict. In May, the duo opened Svitlo Café in Dnipro, a modern Ukrainian eatery located in a historic building’s basement. However, running a restaurant amidst war presented a unique set of challenges, including curfews, staff shortages, logistical issues, and a drastically changed digital landscape.

Challenges with Google Maps Amidst War

One particular challenge was the inability to register the restaurant on Google Maps, a crucial tool for any new business. In response to Russia’s invasion, Google had implemented restrictions on user contributions to Google Maps in Ukraine, such as adding new businesses. This was due to concerns that the platform was being used to target sensitive locations for assaults.

Google Eases Restrictions

Recently, Google has begun easing these restrictions in most regions of Ukraine. This development allows business owners like Lysenko to list their businesses, mark their locations, and share reviews. "It’s absolutely necessary for a new business, doesn’t matter which one you have," says Lysenko.

The Importance of Reviews and the Language Barrier

Roman Batyrenko, co-owner of Nonna Macarona restaurant, shares a similar story. He emphasizes the importance of customer reviews in improving a business. However, he and Lysenko were surprised to find that digital marketing sites like TripAdvisor prohibit reviews in the Ukrainian language, forcing customers to leave reviews in other languages.

A Symbol of Resilience and Independence

For Ukrainian entrepreneurs like Lysenko and Batyrenko, opening restaurants during these trying times is more than just a business endeavor. It’s a daring endorsement of their country and its people’s resilience in the face of adversity. "Russia can break our homes, but they can’t break our independence, and we will work, we will open businesses, and we will make it better," Lysenko says.


This story is a testament to the indomitable spirit of entrepreneurs and their ability to adapt and thrive, even in the face of conflict and adversity. It also highlights the crucial role of digital tools like Google Maps and review platforms in today’s business landscape, and the need for more inclusive language policies. As Google eases its restrictions, it will be interesting to see how businesses in Ukraine continue to navigate these challenges and contribute to the country’s economic recovery.

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