Dear Voiagers and anyone else this may concern,
We have not held back in being forward about our views on Ukraine and we continue to stand by the people of Ukraine and condemn Russia’s invasion as a gross violation of international law and human rights. This includes supporting the EU, UK and US sanctions against Russia.
We, as a purpose driven company, prioritise our values and pride ourselves on transparency and being a trustworthy and reliable partner for all our stakeholders, our employees, as well as our city partners, riders and commercial partners. We always strive to do what is right with the highest integrity over and above what is legally required.
As we made clear, in our blog originally published 7 March 2022, entitled ‘Voi stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine’, we have always conducted background checks on our investors before agreeing on terms with them. We have also always sought to have stakeholders who are aligned with our core values and, when the invasion began, immediately looked again at all our partners and investors with connections to Russia to ensure they were still aligned.
Nevertheless, there continues to be some media and other discussion around particular investors so we thought it was worth clarifying the steps we have taken and the full extent of their involvement in Voi.
Like many other tech startups in the last decade, we have received some investment from people with Russian roots – we have never hidden this fact and at no time were these investors on any sanction list nor are they today.
We have two current shareholders linked to Russia who together own around 4 percent of the company. As I mentioned, we have sought investors from the get-go who aligned with our values of inclusion and sustainability. We are confident that these investors are committed to young, growth tech companies for these same reasons. Furthermore, neither has any influence in the company’s decision making. These investors are experienced financial tech investors who have made multiple investments in promising start-ups and scale-ups across Europe and the US over the past few years. They understand the complexity in the situation and want to do what is best for Voi and our mission, in relation to these shareholdings. For that reason, we have asked them to temporarily transfer their voting rights to me, Voi’s CEO, Fredrik Hjelm. While neither investor has any influence, nor has sought to have any, in the company’s decision making we all appreciate that this move may provide comfort to any who are concerned.
Read about partners and investors with Russian connections here.
As also explained in our blog of 7 March 2022, we took the decision to cease all business activities in Russia and Belarus, including the reselling of refurbished vehicles. We are selling our minority stake in a Russian micromobility company and will support any of their employees wanting to move to other countries in the ways we can, including with finding jobs. We already have both Russians and Ukrainians working at Voi and, as with all our people affected by the war, we are offering ongoing professional support to any who want it.
Since 8 March 2022, all Voi scooters in Europe and UK will blink in the colours of the Ukrainian flag every day between 12:00 hrs and 13:00 hrs for two weeks. Voi will also donate all revenue from the scooters during that time to the UNHCR. In addition, we are supporting our friends at leading Swedish health organisations such as Meds, Kry and Sjukvårdshjälpen with getting medical supplies into Ukraine from other European countries.
Voi is, like everyone, closely monitoring the daily changes with regards to the Ukrainian invasion by Putin’s regime. As stated before, I have personally asked our investors and other partners to stand up for the same values as we are standing up for, against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Otherwise, they can’t be partners to Voi eventually. We are working through our options to be able to do the right thing, to be true to our aims as a company, and also treat everyone fairly in these very difficult times. Rest assured, we will always abide by any laws or sanctions.
In writing this letter, there is one important thing I would like to touch upon – namely the responsibility we as a society as a whole have to ensure we continue to separate Putin and his regime from the many Russians that don’t support their actions. As I have stated before Putin and his regime are bullies and have to be taken down. But millions of other Russians have helped to build the world and Europe as we know it today. Just as we tell our kids not to bully their classmates based on the passport they hold, we have to tell ourselves to not judge by nationality, but by their values and actions.