Kennedy Odede grew up in Kibera, Africa’s largest slum located in Nairobi, Kenya, where he experienced extreme poverty, violence, and inequality. Kennedy has become one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs as the CEO and founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a grassroots movement that improves the dignity, physical well-being, and opportunity of urban slum dwellers throughout Kenya. Kennedy has recently been named a 2020 Person of the Year by The Star, one of Kenya’s largest newspapers.
SHOFCO has an integrated model for urban slum transformation that links direct services like health care, girls’ education, and clean water, with a community-based organizing platform. With a focus on women and girls’ leadership, SHOFCO equips community members with the tools to inform and guide the agenda for social change.
Driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Kibera, SHOFCO became the largest grassroots organization in the slum. Today, SHOFCO impacts over 2.4 million slum dwellers across 14 urban slums in Kenya. SHOFCO is on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in Kenya’s urban settlements, delivering health care, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), food relief, and economic stability at scale. In 2018, SHOFCO became the youngest-ever organization to receive the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest humanitarian prize awarded to nonprofits.