The Story Of The 22STARS Foundation
This is probably not the first time that you have heard about 22STARS, while the 22STARS FOUNDATION was only established in 2017, the social business 22STARS JEWELLERY was founded in 2013 and its story began back in 2009, when the founder Stella Romana Airoldi went to Uganda to do research for her thesis in international humanitarian law. In particular, the story of Susan Laker -who was about Stella's age and had to seek refuge in military barracks when she was only 13 years old and where she got pregnant with her first son – touched her heart. Stella's creativity and wish to help the war affected people have been a direct incentive to establish the social jewellery company 22STARS a few years later in 2013.
With the social business, we have been able to empower families in Uganda for years, using funding primarily from selling handmade jewellery that was made by our 22STARS artisans. This product-based model empowered our families in the slums of Kampala and Jinja and helped us to carry out our social programs on the ground. Artisans like Susan Laker, where able to go back to school and offer education to their children. We are still active with the 22STARS JEWELLERY shop and keep changing lives, however, we wanted to reach more people and so we started the 22STARS FOUNDATION next to the social business.
Why? We saw firsthand the difference that an education makes and wanted to expand our programs to enable more children to go to school and also educate their families with entrepreneurship skills. The sale of jewellery is highly dependent on the market, our production costs and marketing costs are high and at times we would sell a lot and other times nothing. We needed a model that would provide us with a more stable and consistent income stream. Now we are able to carry out our programs on a much larger scale.
Our local managers Susan Laker (Kampala) and Aidah Wafula (Jinja) are thrilled with the new development programs and reported back the positive difference they are already making. We plan on increasing this impact! Please share the story of 22STARS, become a monthly donor for our social programs, sponsor a child long-term and visit us in Uganda!
Thank you for your support!
Listen to Susan Laker her story whose the best example of what a difference an education can make
Our Ugandan project manager Susan Laker was together with 22STARS founder Stella Airoldi in Europe (1 April - 7 May). Thanks to 58 sponsors we raised 2700 euro to kick off together our new 22STARS #EducationIsTheKey campaign in Europe! Susan and Stella talked at different events during their Social Impact Trip about how important education is and why they started in addition their product based model the 22STARS jewellery started a donation based model to run the foundation. Watch Susan's talk below where she shares the many challenges she faced in her life, and how being creative saved her family. Once she got access to education her future and that of her children changed completely. Susan inspires many kids in the slum that it's never too late to start school and together with Stella she put education first!
Education and entrepreneurship is the key to fight poverty and disease
Our Five Programs represent an integrated approach to community development focused on the development of economic, social, natural, human, and cultural capital. Our programs focus on school sponsorships, nutrition, small business skills, livelihoods and after school projects. We believe economic development and education combined with a strong sense of communal belonging will empower and position our communities to protect and preserve their culture, environment, and communities and rise above poverty.
Using education and entrepreneurship to empower families in Uganda
Every child needs to have an education and families need to become self-sustainable!
Get rid of the box, Transparency, Honesty and Sustainability
Meet Our Team Members
Our 22STARS team works together since several years. Stella met Aidah, David and Susan in 2009 and end of 2012 they started with the social enterprise. In 2016 they started with the education program to send children to school and in 2017 the foundation was established. Romana visited 22STARS in March 2016 and Klaus in November 2017 and they both were among the first to start sponsoring the children and got involved immeditaley. Francesca joined the team in February 2018. In addition to our team we have ambassadors helping us with the foundation, check them out below.
Founder/ Board Member
Stella is the founder of 22STARS jewellery and 22STARS Foundation. She is the main responsible for the whole project. Together with Susan and Aidah she selects the children for the program. She writes their stories, takes the pictures and keeps the website updated. She is also in contact with all the sponsors, keeps track of the finances and does fund raising. Stella is regularly herself in Uganda to check on the families and children. You can follow her personal Facebook Profile to stay up to date about the latest news from 22STARS. Stella loves sleeping under the stars and calls herself a social impact nomad.
Local manager Kampala
Susan Laker was one of the reasons that Stella started 22STARS! Susan is the 22STARS project manager for the jewellery and also for the kids project. Susan lives herself in the Acholi Quarter slum. Thanks to making jewellery her life improved a lot and she was able to go back to school herself. Susan pays the school fees when Stella is not there and she sends her invoices, school reports and updates. As Susan also lives in the slum area, she keeps a close eye on the families and children. Every Sunday she cooks for all children a meal. We send all three children of Susan to school through the Foundation 22STARS Kids.
Local manager Jinja
Aidah met Stella already back in 2009! Aidah her parents used to live in the Danida slum in Jinja. Aidah however was able to go to school and leave the slum area. She lives now in Jinja about 10 minutes away from Danida with her family. Aidah keeps coming back to her community and does he upmost best to help the families in Danida. Aidah also makes jewellery for 22STARS and when Stella is not around Aidah keeps a close eye on the children and their school performances. She also helps us translating and runs the social business trainings and weekly meals in Jinja. We send all four children of Aidah to school through the Foundation 22STARS Kids.
Klaus Friedhelm Muller
Klaus F. Müller is a German dentist and European pioneer of modern dental implantology. He grew up in Sinn in Hessen. Privately, he is concerned with the art and architecture of historicism and he is an avid ultralight pilot. Klaus was supporting 22STARS from the beginning and was the first to support two boys with school fees, after hearing their stories that they would like to become pilots too. Klaus is going to visit the 22STARS projects himself together with his wife Anne Mueller in November 2017.
Francesca Giovannini is a Italian change-maker. She grew up in Milan, Italy, where she obtained a Bachelor degree in Literature and History. After traveling to South East Asia she decided to help people out of poverty. Hence she did her masters in International Relations and focused on child protection. She worked in Colombia and Tanzania at a day care center, targeting disabled and malnourished children. In Kenya with the United Nations and in Nepal she worked in the relief efforts for the reconstruction and in projects related to education and children development. Francesca loves backpacking around the world, or to be in some remote ashram in India or Latin America, where she loves to practice yoga and meditation.
Romana is living in the Netherlands but comes from German/Italian parents. Romana has a big social network in and outside of Holland and loves to bring people together and to organize events. She loves kids and even published her own book for children called Pipke and Popke. She was a big fan from 22STARS jewellery from the very first second she was also among the first people to start sponsoring children long time. Romana visited the 22STARS projects herself in March 2016.
Our Amazing Ambassadors
Our 22STARS ambassadors represent 22STARS in their city/country and network. By bringing together a group of like-minded individuals with a passion for fashion, a mind for business and a heart for the world we can achieve beautiful things! As our Ambassador you are part of an initiative that provides hope and a better future for our families in Uganda. You will be our eyes and ears on-site and our voice to tell people who we are and what we do. You will share our story through social media and help finding events and retailers where the 22STARS jewellery and the 22STARS Foundation can get involved into.
Ambassador United Kingdom
Angelika comes from Poland but loves exploring the globe and immersing herself in other cultures. She currently works as a Business Coordinator at Metropolitan Housing Trust in England. She is also a freelance photographer and loves capturing people and emotions. She enjoys experimenting with light and different cameras, especially with the vintage film cameras. Another passion of hers is linguistics especially with regard to social context and human communication which is why she has an MA degree in Sociolinguistics. Angelika has been a vegetarian for almost 6 years and yogini for 2. Personal growth has always been extremely important to her and reading books is one of her addictions. As she loves nature and the planet she lives on, she recognises the importance of environmental protection and sustainability and believes that everyone can make a difference by introducing little changes in their daily life. Angelika is absolutely delighted to work for 22STARS. She hopes to help in empowering women in Uganda and strongly believes that education is the key to development.
Lianne Schulte is a model at Maxmodels and works at the Hype Hairdressers Salon in Amsterdam. When Lianne heard about 22STARS from her friend Stella, she was so enthusiastic that she offered to make use of her fashion network to help with the first photoshoots and be the first 22STARS model. In November 2012 Stella invited Lianne to join her on a trip to Uganda. It was Lianne’s first trip to the country but she adapted very quickly to the cultural circumstances and won the heart of the Ugandan people with her charm. Lianne lives in Scheveningen/ The Hague, close to the beach and loves being on the waves on a sunny day. She also has a beautiful voice and sometimes sings accompanying herself on guitar or piano.
Danielle works as a Business Proces Professional at Accenture in Amsterdam. She is a very busy lady and has always a filled up agenda. Daan, as we call her, likes to go to the cinema or a museum on rainy days. When the sun shines you can find her chilling in a boat on the cannels of Amsterdam or dancing at a festival. She also started meditating with the Shambala Group and believes in Buddhism. Daan is a very passionate person and loves to help others. In the past she did already volunteer work at Don Bosco Jonathan; an organization that helps homeless youth. When Danielle found out that 22STARS jewellery not only looks good, but also does beautiful things for the families in Uganda, she wanted to know more about the company and foundation and get involved. Danielle helped us selling 22STARS jewellery at some Sunday Markets and Festivals in Amsterdam and hosted several fundraiser events for us in Amsterdam.
Pastor David Wafula is one of the prime movers of 22STARS and the husband of Aidah Namboza. He met Stella in 2009 and with his help we were able to visit the women in the Acholi Quarters and Danida slums at their homes and listen to their stories. David’s first profession was teaching. He holds a Bachelor degree in Theology and a masters degree in Organizational Leadership and Management. David helps us on the ground in Jinja. In his free time he loves singing and making people laugh.
Anne is a very sporty person. In the Summer months she loves to go hiking and to go swimming in the sea and during the Winter months you find her on skis in the Swiss Alps. She also loves to be in the sky! Since about 30 years she is flying in a small sports airplane. Anne travels a lot! In November 2017 she came to Uganda to visit our projects and meet the children that she was sponsoring since years now. Anne loves our Ugandan jewellery, as it is so easy to wear and can be worn casual and chique. And on top of that that it helps the families in Uganda to earn a living.
Daniel comes from South of Germany and has a passion for traveling and helping people. He is sponsoring a child from the 22STARS foundation since October 2016 and he came to Uganda in March 2017 to visit his child and the projects of 22STARS. Together with his father and brother he tested the eye sight of the families of our community and handed out free glasses. His family continued raising funds for the projects in Uganda and hence we are able to continue with the eye care of the families. Daniel also helps actively out during our 22STARS events in Europe. He has his own business and is a consultant for corporations.
Steffi is born in Germany and loves traveling. She started traveling in 2010 and couldn´t stop it until today. She came to Uganda in March 2018 for the Workation and also to visit the projects of 22 Stars. From the first day she totally fell in love with Uganda and the people, especially with little Tracy was „Love at first sight“, so Steffi decided to sponsor Tracy that she can go to Kindergarden Class. She has her own business like the „Travel University“, Event manager and Virtual Assistant. Steffi is also touring through Germany, Austria and Switzerland to tell her Story about Uganda and 22 Stars at the Show „6 Jahre Weltreisen, die geilste Lücke im Lebenslauf“. Uganda was totally life changing and it feels so good, to help people!
Press About 22STARS
PRESS ABOUT 22STARS
The founder of FOUNDATION 22STARS KIDS is Stella Romana Airoldi.
Stella spoke at several events and got interviewed in various magazines, blogs and podcasts.
This year she spoke at inter alia Nomad Cruise, Nomad City Las Palmas, DNX camp Greece, DNX conference Lisbon, Escape the City Frankfurt, Digital Nomad Talks, Positiv Verruckt and 311 Verona.
Stella Romana Airoldi | Making an Impact in the World: Creating a Social Business. Stella is one of those people who seem to have been everywhere already. And it’s probably true! In 2008 she decided to travel around the world by herself for about eight months. Wherever she went, she felt like she was confronted with poverty and injustice. Long story short: she got her Master’s in Public International Law and became a board member of SIFE Leiden, where she learned that the best way to help people out of poverty is by making sure that they can provide for themselves. Soon after she founded 22STARS in Uganda, a business based in Kampala, in which women make jewelry from recycled paper. With the project, she enables children to attend school. In her talk, Stella will tell you just how difficult it can be working in different cultures and especially with war victims without academic education, how to deal with obstacles at the start, how finding the right community will help you forward.
The Nomad Capitalist
"Stella is a Dutch and German born social nomad, constantly on the move, who makes with her business an impact in the world. With a captivating enthusiasm in her manner of speaking she managed to give me an insight of her journey, adventures in Africa and upcoming inspiring projects. With 22STARS she empowers families in Uganda to rise above poverty by helping them to design and sell jewellery. She also has a foundation which sends more then 98 children long term to school and gives them weekly meals, medicine and clothes. In addition, she host workations in Uganda to bring Digital and Social nomads over here to co-work together with locals to make a change."
Marcus Meurer LifeHackz Podcast
" Dieses Mal mit der lieben Stella von 22Stars. 22Stars ist ein Online-Shop, der Schmuck von Frauen aus Uganda verkauft und Stella habe ich in Tarifa kennengelernt, was auch ein Digitaler Nomaden und Kitesurfing Hotspot ist. Wir sind ja jetzt bekanntlich total passioniert dem Kitesurfing verfallen. Stella habe ich dann auch wieder auf der Nomade Cruise getroffen und in Jericocoara hier in Brasilien. Also die Szene wächst irgendwie immer mehr zusammen, was richtig cool ist. Man trifft immer mehr Gleichgesinnte unterwegs, die man dann kennt und kann sich dann mit denen über businessrelevante Sachen austauschen."
Sign up and listen to a 30 minutes video interview with Stella. Freedom Summit is An online platform where inspiring change-makers and leaders teach new emerging formulas on how to travel, work and live a fulfilling life around the world. Stella will explain in the video how to start a social business and how she is making 100% impact by empowering women in Uganda. "Bridging cultures through fashion and design. Our jewellery is designed by Stella Romana Airoldi in cooperation with the Ugandan designers. Each piece is hand-crafted by one of twenty-five 22STARS empowered women, and 100% of product sales are reinvested in the social mission to empower women and their families in Uganda.
King and Why
“Everyone has an hour in their day to go and do something for somebody else; I don’t care how busy they are.”- Gisele Bündchen. By all means take a moment to digest the model mogul’s truth bomb. Without striving to make an impact, to make any form of change, a business might as well cease to exist. Chiming for change with her sustainable jewellery brand 22STARS – a fashion enterprise that fosters talent and empowers women in need in Uganda’s Acholi quarter –founder Stella Airoldi is bringing a whole new meaning to paying it forward. MC, editor
Nomad City Las Palmas
Stella talked at Nomad City Las Palmas about how to make a difference as a Digital Nomad. The Nomad City events are a fantastic opportunity to network, learn and experience the beautiful town of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with other location independent entrepreneurs and digital nomads from around the globe. Join us for amazing talks with speakers who share their best tips and tools about location independent life AND get to explore Gran Canaria and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, while taking part in different activities around the island
"Making a change in poverty and injustice - just with your own work? This seems impossible for most people as they feel they can't change anything in the world with their own power. For them it's a task for governments. But Stella Romana Airoldi, born in Germany and grew up in the Netherlands, wanted to make a change on her own and she did. After her travels to Uganda, where people are still traumatized from war, are HIV positive and have little education, Stella decided to help by empowering people to provide for themselves. So in 2012 she started 22STARS. In the online shop of 22STARS and in stores like YAY in Amsterdam she sells jewellery, which is handmade from recycled paper by women from the Acholi Quarters in Uganda. In this interview Stella shares her story about her world wide travels, her business and digital nomad lifestyle."
Never Liked It Anyway
"Since she was little, Stella’s lucky number has always been 22 and she loves sleeping under the stars, hence her company’s name. Stars symbolize the interconnectedness of the world because we can all see them from wherever we are. For the artisans in Uganda, stars mean hope, guidance, protection, and balance. And Stella’s hope is that this jewelry, and the stories behind it, will inspire people to reach for the stars, too. Stella, this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, is the founder of 22STARS, a sustainable jewelry brand that sells exclusive handmade jewelry created from recycled paper by women in Uganda. She is a huge advocate for “fashion that gives back,” and empowers people through her company’s mission. “Our mission is to design and sell high quality jewelry made with respect for the environment and the people that make them.”
"Van toga naar teenslipper-lifestyle met een online fashionbedrijf en daarmee iets teruggeven aan de wereld: social entrepreneur Stella Romana Airoldi (31) doet het met haar 22Stars. Business meets goodwill, wat een inspiratie! Met een rechtenstudie leek een advocatenjob een vanzelfsprekendheid. Voor haar scriptie reisde Stella eerst nog even af naar Oeganda, waar ze de vrouwen van Kampala in haar hart sloot. Tegen alle verwachtingen in werd het niet de advocatuur, maar de fashionindustrie, om zo de Oegandese vrouwen een beter bestaan te geven."
"When Stella Romana Airoldi first set foot in Uganda, she had no idea she was about to embark on an even greater journey to help bring education and jobs to the women she met there. Building off of an existing product she saw being made by the women in northern Uganda, Stella founded 22STARS, a brand that stretches far beyond the jewelry it creates. Each piece is handmade from 100% recycled materials, and the proceeds help women support their families, while making education accessible to their children. In addition, the women who work for the brand receive financial training, social support, health training, and a variety of other classes."
Digital Nomad Souls
"Stella unterstützt mit dem Verkauf von Schmuck auf 22stars.com Frauen in Uganda, ein besseres Leben zu führen. Die schönen Schmuckstücke werden aus recyceltem Papier hergestellt. Außerdem setzt sich Stella dafür ein, dass Kinder in die Schule gehen können anstatt im Steinbruch arbeiten zu müssen."
"About how social media can help your business. I have a socially minded business called 22STARS, that designs and sells handmade jewellery from recycled paper. The jewellery is made by women survivors of the war in Uganda. You’re probably wondering how I came to set up something like this, so let me tell you the story of how it all started. Following in the footsteps of my parents, I lead a very active life and travelled all over the world. During these travels, I was regularly confronted with poverty and injustice. For that reason, I decided to get my Master’s degree in Public International Law and become a board member of SIFE Leiden. That is where I learned that the best way to help people get out of poverty is to make sure that they can provide for themselves. I wrote my thesis about girl child soldiers within the Lord Resistance Army and visited Uganda in 2009 to volunteer at an AIDS Information Centre and do the research for my thesis. This is how my passion and interest for Uganda started."
"Recycled Paper Jewelry From Uganda - 22STARS. In this week's artisan portrait, meet Stella Romana Airoldi the founder of 22STARS. This is a socially minded business that designs, crafts and sells handmade jewelry. This unique jewelry is handmade from recycled paper, by women living in the Acholi Quarter of Kampala, Uganda. All the jewelry pieces of 22STARS are fabricated in a socially responsible manner that is friendly to the environment.
22STARS jewelry is designed by Stella Romana Airoldi and handmade together with Ugandan artisans to empower them to rise above poverty. Their artisans fled during the war with the LRA from Northern Uganda to Kampala and face many challenges; many of them are illiterate, HIV positive and traumatized. 22STARS enables them to get their self-respect back and earn a living for their families. Besides creating jewelry, they teach them small business skills to make them independent strong women and help them where necessary.
Stella Romana Airoldi heeft een Nederlands bedrijf, 22STARS opgericht. 22STARS richt zich op het creëren van duurzame sieraden. Alle producten zijn handgemaakt van 100% gerecycled papier op een sociaal verantwoorde manier. Ze worden gemaakt door vrouwen die in de Acholi Wijk van Kampala, Oeganda, wonen. Hierdoor verdienen zij geld voor o.a. voedsel, kleding, scholing, medicijnen en onderdak.
"Die niederländische Initiative 22STARS wurde von Stella Romana Airoldi gegründet. Als Stella 2009 im Rahmen einer Forschungsreise über Kindersoldaten nach Uganda fährt, entdeckt sie durch einen Zufall die Frauen aus dem Acholi Viertel von Kampala (einem Lager für Kriegsflüchtlinge, die aus Nord-Uganda geflohen sind) und ist sofort beeindruckt von den künstlerischen Fähigkeiten der Damen, schönen Schmuck aus Recycling-Papier zu machen. Nach einigen Überlegungen entschloss sich Stella, den Frauen zu helfen und eine Plattform für ihren Schmuck zu gründen."
2009 war ich in Uganda um über Kindersoldatinnen in der Lord Resistance Army zu schreiben. Ich hatte dort Frauen für meine Masterthesis interviewt, die im Acholi Quarter in Kampala, ein Internally Displaced Center für Kriegsopfer aus Nord-Uganda,leben. Die Frauen dort fertigten einfachen Schmuck aus Papier an. Um Sie zu unterstützen habe ich ihnen natürlich Schmuck abgekauft. Den Kontakt habe ich gehalten und jedes Jahr Schmuck bestellt. Irgendwann wurde der Schmuck meinen Freunden zu langweilig. Sie fragten mich, ob die Frauen nicht mal was anderes machen könnten – zum Beispiel, eine lange blau-grüne Kette mit unterschiedlich großen Perlen, eine kurze schwarz-rote Kette und so weiter. Ich habe gesagt: “ Na klar, die können alles machen was du willst.” Als der gewünschte Schmuck ankam, waren meine Freunde unglaublich begeistert davon, dass alles mit der Hand hergestellt wurde. Sie schlugen mir vor, einen Laden zu eröffnen und den Schmuck zu verkaufen.
Let's Go Wonder
Stella has a heart of gold, she is a wanderluster, a founder and a #GirlBoss all round. Here is her story how she started international businesses 22Stars whilst traveling the world.
In our stories of #Wonderer series, we share with you snippets from the road. These are stories from the women in our community, they are powerful, bold and free-spirited #Wonderers who love to travel. Full of Wanderlust.
JUP 033 | Stella Airoldi: Was du für dich tust, das stirbt mit dir, was du für andere tust ist unsterblich Stella lebt in den Niederlanden, in Uganda und bereist die Welt. Sie ist digitale Nomadin, Visionärin und kreative Unternehmerin. Durch ihre Arbeit mit Frauen in Uganda, die einzigartigen Schmuck aus Recycling-Papier herstellen, ermöglicht sie ihnen und ihren Familien ein besseres Leben, ganz nach dem Prinzip: Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe. Stella hilft den Frauen sich selbst aus Armut zu befreien, indem sie ihnen Businessskills vermittelt, ihnen Gehör in der digitalen Welt verschafft und sich um das Marketing der handgefertigten Einzelstücke kümmert. In alle Prozesse von der Produktion bis zum Vertrieb ist sie involviert. Außerdem ermöglicht sie Kindern in den Slums von Uganda, durch eine Stiftung, den Schulbesuch.Was diese tolle Frau noch so alles treibt, was sie überhaupt nach Uganda geführt hat und wo du ihre tollen Produkte findest, das erfährst du in Interview 33 des Jungunternehmerpodcast.