United States Senator from Delaware Chris Coons held a sideline meeting with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) Founder and CEO Dr. Kennedy Odede in his recent visit to Kenya.
Coons, who was sent to Kenya by President Joe Biden to broker a truce between President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, praised Dr. Odede’s work in Kibera saying it has uplifted the lives of vulnerable women and youth.
“I’m happy to be with you Kennedy and I’ve enjoyed seeing what you have done for your community in Kibera. God bless you and SHOFCO,” Coons said in a short video clip shared by Dr. Odede on social media.
SHOFCO runs the largest grassroots movement in Kenya, Shofco Urban Network (SUN), with a membership of over three million, mainly in the informal settlements and semi-rural areas.
Apart from SUN, the organisation runs six other programs which include education, healthcare, GBV response and prevention, WASH, sustainable livelihood program, and women empowerment program.
It is for this reason that President Ruto reached out to Dr. Odede this year to advise him on slum upgrading program that his government is currently carrying out.
The SHOFCO boss enjoys a wide network of influential individuals across the globe and was last year introduced by former United States President Bill Clinton as a family friend during Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) forum held in the New York.
President Clinton also lauded Dr. Odede saying his initiatives have made a difference in society.
“Pleasure to introduce someone who is to me truly embodies the best of CGI. His (Odede’s) work has improved lives in the most impoverished communities on earth. A long-time friend of our family,” the former President said before ushering him to the podium to speak.
Dr. Odede was also appointed to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Advisory Committee by Samantha Power last year.
Over many decades, the committee has evolved to play a key role in fostering cooperation between the US government and a range of NGOs, and it has provided a platform for civil society to engage with USAID and help inform its approach to US foreign assistance.
The appointment came less than two years after the Dr. Odede hosted USAID boss Samantha Power at the inaugural World Communities Forum (WCF) where he shared with her, alongside other global leaders, how his focus on community-driven change has seen his organisation impact over three million slum dwellers in Kenya through various causes.
The forum brought together high-profile development experts such as Chelsea Clinton, Darren Walker, Dr Oby Ezekwesili and Cecile Richards who listened and learnt about grassroots solutions from community-based leaders while inspiring a localisation revolution to decolonise development.
It is at the forum that Dr. Odede challenged Power and the other leaders to invest more in community-led solutions and as a result, the USAID since committed 25 per cent of its resources to local orgainsations with a promise to do more.
The appointment also expanded Dr. Odede’s global network to champion his favourite subject of how partnerships between the government and community-led organisations can help end poverty within Kenyan and African slums while achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Odede shared this when he joined a panel of eminent persons at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in May 2022 to discuss how to eliminate global poverty.
He has been urging the national and local governments, private sector, NGOs as well as global leaders to invest in community-led solutions if the world has to achieve substantiable development.
His tenacity and persistence over the subject were vindicated in June 2022 when SHOFCO’S community-driven change became a model for global NGOs following a case study conducted by Bridgespan Group which had a close-up look at on-the-ground approaches that make the Kenyan organisation correct.
SHOFCO stood out among the other NGOs around the world with Bridgespan concluding that their model of community-driven change has achieved impact that lasts because the community feels a sense of ownership.
Bridgespan Group is guiding the philanthropic choices of many leading donors, including MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation among others.
Dr. Odede has won several awards including 2022 World Economic Forum Social Innovator of the Year, Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award (2010), Dell Social Innovation Competition (2010), Hartford University, Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane letters (2016), The Future Awards Africa 2014 Prize for Advocacy (2014), People’s Choice Award Winner: Social Entrepreneur, Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship (2014), 7th East Africa Philanthropy Jury Award (20210), Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Prize (2014), and Head of State Commendation (2020) among other honours.
Dr. Odede founded SHOFCO in 2004 in Kibera slums in Nairobi and it has now expanded to 16 counties across Kenya, serving over three million people