“Slovenians have a big heart and we know how to stand together.”
On Thursday, 14 December, we met with ASEF Fellows to hear the first story in this year’s series of conversations with outstanding Slovenians. This ASEF story hosted Ana Lukner Roljić, founder of the charity Ana’s Little Star and the Truhoma platform, whose main purpose is to ensure transparency in philanthropy.
Ana Lukner Roljić always wanted to work in Silicon Valley, where people are very connected. Her wish came true when, at the end of high school, she was offered a sports scholarship to study in America. She started studying international business in Dallas, but after just one year decided to move to San Jose in Silicon Valley, where she is still present today.
The start of Ana’s Little Star was completely unplanned and spontaneous, but the organization quickly grew into one of the largest charities in Slovenia. This did not come as a surprise to Ana, as she believes that all people have a sense of compassion for their fellow human beings and that solidarity, especially in difficult moments, is a human duty. The main goal of Ana’s Little Star has remained the same over the years – to bring people together and to make sure that help gets into the right hands, which is often a challenge as there are many people in the world who want to take advantage of the kindness of others. To this end, they have set up their own database of socially disadvantaged families, within which they have an effective screening system. Another worrying challenge for charity is that people in need are often stigmatized as inferior and do not even dare to ask for help. Ana believes that there are enough goods in the world for everyone to live a normal life, but unfortunately this is not the case due to unequal distribution and human greed.
She went on to highlight another of the main problems with charity in the world, namely that charity is often seen as a business and a good source of income. There is mistrust among people towards charities, as it is often unclear where donations go. As she wants to see transparency in charity on a global level, Ana has taken a step further and brought her life’s work and mission together in the Truhoma (True and honest mankind) platform.
Truhoma, which operates in Slovenia and the USA, serves as a point of connection between people in need and donors. Individuals and organizers of charitable projects apply for aid packages on Truhoma’s website, which are funded by donors. The packages are thendelivered directly to people in need. The main feature of the platform is 100% transparency. All transactions are traceable using blockchain technology, which Ana sees as very useful in philanthropy. She is very proud that she has managed to combine technology with her passion – charity.
She went on to talk about the state of charity in Slovenia. She believes that Slovenians are very charitable and have a big heart. In the case of this year’s floods, it turned out that the local communities are a great source of help. She has also never had any problems finding volunteers.
Unfortunately, she has noticed that charities today are often more concerned with their own survival rather than how they will help others. She sees the lack of digitalisation as key, which is also reflected in the success of smaller organizations, which tend to have younger teams and are more tech-savvy. Truhoma can make it much easier for charities to do their job, and in addition it forces them to be transparent.
Ana Lukner Roljić sees the future of philanthropy in 100% transparency, as led by Truhoma. She therefore hopes that the platform will be extended to other countries and that the project will make a difference in the world of charity.
During the conversation, the guest shared several emotional anecdotes with the ASEF Fellows, showing us the good in people and reminding us what can be built when people come together.
The conversation was moderated by Sara Oblak, ASEF Junior Fellow 2022. The ASEF Story project is supported by the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad and the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Youth.