“If we can shut down STELP, then we have achieved our goal.”

Founder and board member Serkan Eren talks about successes, challenges and future plans of stelp e. v.


Text: Monika Hubbard


Two months ago, STELP officially took up residence in Stuttgart’s west end. In the small commercial space at Johannesstraße 35, where Maultaschen used to be sold over the counter, a huge graffiti now welcomes visitors, partners and employees of the aid organization. And above the entrance door, the advertising sign with the blue-and-yellow logo towers boldly, and almost a little proudly, into the sky of Baden-Württemberg’s state capital.

The founder and board member of STELP e. V., Serkan Eren, who laid the foundation for today’s association in 2015 with the aid campaign “Balkan Route Stuttgart”, is also a bit proud. Back then, when more people than ever before were coming to Europe and Germany seeking protection from war, poverty and persecution, he didn’t hesitate to help stranded people in a refugee camp near the Macedonian border.



“There was only one logical consequence:
its own headquarters.”




Today, he himself still can hardly believe that there is a STELP office. “For the past four years, we’ve been repurposing our apartments as offices, warehouses and meeting rooms, but as our association has grown, we’ve reached a limit at some point. It just doesn’t make sense in the long run to have conversations only in living rooms, bars or via Whatsapp. So there was only one logical consequence: our own headquarters.”






Headquarters may sound a bit exaggerated to some, but for the association, which now has more than 120 members, over 200 volunteers and aid projects on three continents, that’s exactly what it is: on the modest 40 m2 is where all the threads come together from now on. This is where the board works and meets, where projects and activities are planned and managed, where volunteers are coached and where partners and interested parties are welcomed. Serkan is convinced that the new location will bring many advantages, enabling STELP to provide even more effective assistance to people in need in the medium term.

“We are incredibly grateful for the numerous supporters and donations in kind, without which we would not have been able to realize the office in the form it is in,” says Serkan, adding, “It inspires me every time I see how people are inspired by the STELP principle: getting involved together, each in their own way and within their means, to support a good cause.”



“Helping people in need quickly and unbureaucratically
is what we do best.”




Another innovation at STELP is the establishment of a non-profit limited liability company. In the future, she will – for the time being – take care of the planning of the numerous events and activities that STELP organizes. This expanded business structure not only allows the association to increase the STELP brand’s visibility and penetrate new areas, but more importantly, it allows the association to consistently generate revenue – independent of donations. “It has always been important to us that almost all donations reach our aid projects. But our constant growth as an association also requires the growth of internal structures, and for that you need financial resources.” By structurally separating club work and events, Serkan’s team will in future be able to concentrate fully on what it does best: Helping people in need quickly and unbureaucratically. “That is and will remain our core business, and we want to expand that.”






Currently, STELP is active with soup kitchens, educational programs and care for refugees in Turkey, Greece and Yemen. A project in Nepal is planned. “Not a day goes by since STELP has existed that we don’t support those in need,” says Serkan. “Just two weeks ago, we sent a truck with more than 500 boxes of in-kind donations on its way to Athens to help thousands of needy people through the winter. We have very strong partners here in Stuttgart and on the ground in our projects, who with our support, do fantastic work every day without a break.



“Our goal? Close STELP!




If you ask him about the long-term goal of the association, Serkan answers: “Shut down STELP! Because then we will have helped everyone who is in need and we won’t be needed anymore. But of course we are realists and know that this will not happen. So we want to expand and set up more projects in new regions. We also want to pick up even more Stuttgart residents, get them involved and get them excited about our work, but in the medium term we also want to establish ourselves nationwide as an innovative and successful aid organization.”


STELP, as always, has a lot planned. It has never been different. But the past has shown that the unswerving will indeed often paves the way. So one can be curious.

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