22Stars Foundation empowers families in Uganda to rise above poverty

The 22Stars Foundation is on a mission to empower families in Uganda to rise above poverty through local leadership, education and entrepreneurship. The believe is that economic development and education, along with fostering a strong sense of community, are key to help communities break free of poverty. The heart of the team comprises three co-founders, and the whole team is a mix of westerns and Ugandans. 22StarsFoundation has come this far that they can call themselves a professional Non-Profit. The projects use an integrated approach to community development – focusing on the development of economic, social, natural, human, and cultural capital – enabling Ugandans to preserve their culture, environment, and society is a proven result, which makes vey proud.

When we met the organisation in 2021, the number of beneficiaries of the foundation was growing and same for the number of programs and the number of donors. To sustain this growth,  a stable and mature management team is key. Recently, recurring internal communication- and efficiency challenges have emerged and some role changes had taken place amongst the management team members. Let’s say, Ready for efficiency!

“An organisation, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it” -Dee Hock-

How to improve to efficient collaboration in the intercultural management team, with more responsibilities on the ground?

In response to their request for enhanced collaboration within the management team, a mix of westerns and Ugandans, we proudly introduced the “Collaboration Efficiency” program. Launched in June 2021 and set to run through June 2022, this initiative has been designed to align with the foundation’s objectives and the team’s challenges. 

Where we started the program by catching up on the purpose and mission of the organisation and where we jointly chose and embraced the values,  we have built an environment of trust together and acknowledgement of capacity space to grow in: An environment in which the team feels safe to learn and to express themselves, together with specific topics we identified as essential for efficient and professional collaboration for a growing organisation. The dedicated efforts, enriched by an objective external perspective, involve thorough research and analysis of the current approach and individual preferences. This inclusive process actively engaged team members in their daily activities, team meetings, and personalized one-on-one interactions, guaranteeing a tailored and impactful transformation in the collaborative endeavours.

To elevate collaboration to the next level, the Capacity Building program was implemented from July 2022 to July 2023. For sustainable capacity building we used the environment of trust to deepen the growth path in the areas the team identified as the most needy topics. Throughout this initiative, the 22StarsFoundation team has deepened the interrelated elements on the topics of importance to learn about the capacity and their own stretch. A one-year program where online and physical contact alternate in three blocks. This year of routine, repetition will bring more deepened understanding, trustful acting and initiative. 





                 From left to right: Stella, David, Susan, Aidah, Joëlle, Nicholas

“Joëlle trains leaders to solve their own problems in their organisation.She is a great communicator and is being patient with everybody, what makes sure that everyone understands what she teaches.”


“Joëlle showed understanding of the content, she listened to us and was sensitive to our emotions.”


“Joelle‘s work ethic is impeccable, and she is always the first person to offer help and support. Even when she was not working for us. Joelle explained the inner workings of our organisation perfectly and was instrumental in helping our team in finding their roles and how to communicate and collaborate better with each other.”


Improvements and challenges 

To fulfill the role of an objective and neutral advisor effectively, our approach commenced with an open conversation concerning the overarching purpose and mission of the foundation. This initial exchange promptly elicited thought-provoking inquiries, indicating that we immediately were on the right track of team alignment. The subsequent exploration navigated from strategic considerations to operational activities, which provided ample opportunities for in-depth discussions, especially around communication strategies.. What we have worked on is the following:
– To get everybody on the right spot in the organisation where their skills can be fully manifested;
– Clear agreements about the way of cooperation that everyone agrees with and will adhere to;
– Introduction of efficient tooling that is easy and good to use for everybody.

Great achievements were already to meet in the first month, when we agreed on a clear purpose, mission and workable values. Till today we refer to with everything we do. Quick wins were also to find in operations, where accessible templates designed a joined language for overview and alignment. And of course fun! Sharing (embarrassing) stories the team has never heard about, funny quizes to check the knowledge, unexpected challenges to test the teamwork.

And of course we had to face challenges as well. With the direct ambition to grow as much as possible, the agenda’s in the first 4 months were very packed. Too packed to keep up with the daily 22Stars work, turned out in the evaluation. The next phase onwards we had to slow down and we decided also to take more time between the different phases. Gives also more time to practice. Further, habits and patterns are difficult to change in a human being and just takes time and repetition repetition repetition. Especially in the communication it is not easy to really practice what in theory is agreed in workshops.

Overall, improvements are being made, what makes us continuing with main focus on structure, coordination and internal communication.