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  • Writer's picturebruce yu

Starting My Own Nonprofit Startup - The Story of ESpero

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


A new day began, with the sound of bullets flying towards Kherson, history is changed forever. Millions of people crying, fleeing towards all directions. This Russo-Ukrainian war has already impacted so many people's lives. Families separated apart, lovers lost in the sea of refugees, sons watched their father saying goodbye to their mother - maybe forever. Now our world is drawn in the sea of fire and sound of cries.

The lives of refugees are in danger. Until May 3rd, the date I am writing this blog, 5.65 million people became refugees, escaping their homeland, fleeing to different countries for survival.

  • Poland has taken in 3,094,446 refugees

  • Romania 846,521

  • Russia 703,523

  • Hungary 539,821

  • Moldova 449,605

  • Slovakia 385,284

  • Belarus 25,852

Life has not been easy for them since the invasion. In countries bordering Ukraine, refugees can stay in reception centres if they do not have friends or relatives to stay with. They are given food and medical care.

Reporting from the Polish border town of Przemysl, the BBC's Mishal Husain said there were signs offering help with healthcare and onward transport, with local hospitals delivering babies and treating sick and dehydrated children.

The Romanian government is expected to fund the housing costs of 70,000 people for 30 days. Along with Hungary, it is offering cash allowances for food and clothing. Children are being given places in local schools.


After getting to know the situations of refugees, I found the obvious contrast between their lives and Singaporean's lives, who are the people I know: friends, families, schoolmates, teachers, workers. This kind of numbness, taking happiness for granted, feeling indifferent about other people's lives makes me sad. I want to take actions, to raise people's awareness of the ongoing tragedy, as well as making real contributions to help the refugees.

How can I help? How can a high school student help? It seems impossible for a high school student to make a difference. After a week of gathering information and brainstorming, I found a way to start - making Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). In this way, I can record refugee's lives in the form of war memorabilia. Even time passes, this memory of the tragedy, this history, will not be forgotten. The revenue of the NFTs, is therefore a perfect way to help the refugees.

Espero, it is the Spanish word for "hope". After discussing with Ryan, my project manager, we both found the name ESpero perfect for our company. It conveys the message we want to tell the world: there is hope.

The first few days were the hardest. I started recruiting people from my school, recruiting advisors among people I know, and digital artists online. We sent emails to over 20 organizations, interviewing people who are interested and people who are skillful, building the foundation of our startup, making presentations about our startup to schoolmates and companies we have connections with.

After finding my partner Brendan, who I unexpectedly found to be capable of taking initiatives and making great contributions. We became partners. We worked together, collected refugee pictures and stories, coded and made NFTs, building up our own website, social media accounts, OpenSea profile. I am happy to say that we just launched the first series of our NFTs - ESpero 'Reality' series.

'Reality' series is a collection of NFTs depicting the oppression of Ukrainian refugees in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Each piece comes with a unique narrative - a depiction of struggle; a portrayal of courage; an exemplification of ambition. The abstractness of our pieces are intentional, as we provide you, our viewers, with space to imagine, recreate and embody the art with whatever hope you can embellish within it.


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