I first encountered Stars Foundation while working with Students Partnership Worldwide (SPW) – a youth-led development organisation better known today as Restless Development.
It was 2006 and Stars had just announced the launch of the Impact Awards.
Throughout my career in community development, it has been rare to find donors that get it; donors who not only understand the importance of locally-led solutions, but who also encourage that sense of agency and local ownership in the way their funding and support is offered. That critical insight – treating local organisations not simply as ‘delivery partners’, but as autonomous drivers of development – is something I immediately recognised and appreciated in Stars’ philosophy.
Restless Development Tanzania became one of the inaugural winners of the Impact Awards in 2007, and the unrestricted funding and profile that came from Stars contributed significantly to our transformation into the strong, sustainable organisation Restless Development is today. Over the years, I have witnessed the remarkable growth of Stars, both in its activities and ambition. The Foundation has pledged to reach 20 million children by 2020, and will do that in large part through its commitment to those on the front line of development.
As interim CEO, I am so honoured to be part of an institution that improves the financial health and capacity of local organisations, but also uses its position to take up a championing role for its partners, urging its peers in the donor community to provide more enabling support to local organisations. The world we live in is one of increasingly globalised, interconnected challenges. Many of the solutions to those challenges can be most urgently and effectively delivered by exceptional local organisations. If they are to be successful, however, local organisations must be given the space to play a central role in the planning, resource allocation, implementation and monitoring of development efforts.
I look forward to advancing this far-too-often overlooked cause while at Stars, and to exploring new and innovative ways the Foundation can work with its partners to improve the lives of disadvantaged children.