Kennedy Odede, 35


Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco)

Kibera, in the heart of capital city, Nairobi, is changing, and one person who has been instrumental in driving that change is Kennedy Odede. The reggae music lover is leading a movement, Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco), which brings transformation in the urban slums through among other initiatives, providing free healthcare in six clinics in Kibera and one in Mathare.

Shofco is now serving over 350,000 people in five slums in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Through education and healthcare services, Shofco has been working to empower the community and change the lives of the people in the slum he was raised in. The number of employees on its payroll has grown from 400 in 2018, to more than 600 now.

“I received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University in the US for four years in 2009 to study political science and sociology. Before going there, I had a vision of creating an impact and shining the
community which is special for me,” Odede says.

Through his initiative, slum dwellers access water at Sh2 for a 20-litre container with the use of a card. He is also running education centres in Kibera and Mathare, with 350 and about 250 students respectively in their computer and library training classes.

The movement has also seen them set up a Sacco that has so far given Sh30 million as loans to women in Kibera. A gender-based violence office in the area has taken 800 cases to court. Odede says Shofco started as a community youth group involved in cleaning up, art performances, football and giving hope to people.

“I did not have a big plan then but I had a vision,” he says.

This year, the movement has overseen scholarships for eight students from Kibera who have gone to the US for high school. Odede has also founded the “Davos with the poor” conference set to bring world leaders and policymakers together to discuss on poverty and how to reduce it. It runs its projects in partnerships with firms such as the Ford Foundation, Mitsubishi, Mbagathi Hospital, Amref and Safaricom.

Recently, the movement received Sh25 million grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation to provide income-generating opportunities in PET bottle collection and also create employment. Shofco has operations in New York run by 10 people for fundraising purposes as well an advisory board in Kenya.

–Elizabeth Kivuva