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Discussion on: I'm an open source enthusiast at Mapbox, the creator of Leaflet and 40+ other JS libraries, and a rock musician. AMA!

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Jessica Bell

What do you think tech folks around the world could learn from the local scene in Kiev? What is the local tech community there struggling with the most?

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Vladimir Agafonkin Ask Me Anything

Kyiv is one of the biggest and fastest growing tech hubs in Europe, and one of the leading IT outsourcing hotspots in the world. Here's a good overview of the reasons, but I feel it comes down to two things:

  • Affordable, heavily STEM-focused education system, with multiple world class universities in the city. While it can feel pretty outdated at times, it gives a very strong foundation (e.g. mathematics), which eventually produces many top-talent engineers.
  • Abysmally low taxes, living and operational costs for engineers. It's very cheap to set up a startup team here compared to most other countries.

Kyiv is also a pretty comfortable, walkable city with lots of greenery, great food, awesome subway system, tons of coworking spaces.

The struggles are there too:

  • A LOT of the top talent immigrates to Europe and US. Mostly due to corruption, inadequate government, bad social security and unstable economy. Hundreds of my Ukrainian ex-colleagues now live in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, SF & Bay Area.
  • You'll find the diversity quite lackluster compared to the West — engineers are predominantly male, and there's a lot of gender bias (e.g. many people from the older generation think that girls don't need STEM education and instead have to find a husband and raise kids, cook and clean at home all the time). The situation is steadily improving every year though.
  • Most of the tech scene is outsourcing — Kyiv is heavily lacking in product startups, although this gets better too.