Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) Founder and CEO Dr. Kennedy Odede has called on donors and world leaders to fund community-led organisations to achieve sustainable and long-term impact.
Speaking at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York on Monday, Dr. Odede said local communities must be trusted to solve their own problems.
“Today, my call to action is, ‘fund local grassroot organisations’. That is how they will achieve sustainable and long-term impact. Let us be honest; we are not the answer! We must trust people to solve their own problems. Give power to the people,” he told over 1000 CGI participants.
CGI brings together leaders of NGOs and philanthropic organizations; prominent voices in business, labor, and finance; influential youth advocates and grassroots activists; heads of state and other government officials; and other global citizens to explore effective models for making lasting positive change.
President Bill Clinton, who opened the forum, introduced Dr. Odede as a long-time family friend and a true embodiment of the best of CGI.
“Pleasure to introduce someone who is to me truly embodies the best of CGI. His (Dr. Odede’s) work has improved lives in the most impoverished communities on earth. A long-time friend of our family, Kennedy Odede and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities has made a huge difference from almost the beginning of his very young life and he is here to help us kick this forum off,” President Clinton welcomed him to speak amid cheers from the attendees.
On his part, the Shofco boss credited President Clinton for his achievement saying he believed in him 15 years ago when no one was ready to do so.
Dr. Odede, who was last week appointed by US Government to sit at USAID advisory board, also insisted on a collective effort to solve the most pressing problems facing the world today.
“15 years ago, I got an opportunity to meet President Bill Clinton and he asked me what he could do for me. He was putting trust in my hands as a community leader.
“He was listening to me, and I requested him to allow me to be part of the Clinton Global Initiative because I knew at that point that my ambition to create an urban poor movement was not something I could do alone. It would take a collective action,” he stated.
Thanks to CGI 2013 forum which Dr. Odede attended, residents of his Kibera backyard now have clean water.
“At the CGI meeting in 2013, I presented a call to action to provide clean water to the communities in Kibera, and because of commitment to action made at that meeting, community members in Kibera and beyond now have access to clean water,” he said.
Dr. Odede, who painted a grim picture of the impact of rural to urban migration by 2045, challenged world leaders to concentrate on empowering communities at the bottom of the pyramid to avert future crisis.
“By 2045, the world’s urban population is projected to reach six billion. Without the capacity to handle this growth, urban poverty will explode. We are at the precincts of the urban spring and emerging economies like Kenya will have to endure this burden leading to further inequality in areas like climate, gender, access to vaccines as well as lack of basic human needs,” he stated.
He added: “I have hope that this will not be the case if we take action together. Currently, the resources are constraint and not reaching the communities in need. We are letting this to happen and it is time to get unstuck. Despite the situation I grew up in, I was filled with hope by the community around me. I believed in our abilities. I knew we could do something about it if others would only listen to us and that is how Shofco was born.”
The Shofco boss shared the podium with world leaders among them Mayor of New York City Eric Adams, Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Iweala, World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Melinda Gates and New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
Heads of State and governments including Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley and Moldova President Maia Sandu also attended the forum.
A believer of local solutions, the Shofco CEO has been emphasising on local talent empowerment to alleviate global poverty.
“We can no longer afford to live in a world of aid workers and beneficiaries. We must recognize the talents that exist in marginalized communities and unlock this potential to drive durable social change,” he said in a past forum.
The community-driven change, championed by Shofco, has now become a model for global NGOs following a case study conducted by Bridgespan Group in June 2022 which had a close-up look at on- the-ground approaches that make the Kenyan organisation tick.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Bridgespan has recently become the consulting firm billionaires turn to when they want to give away money.
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 founded Shofco in 2004 in Kibera, Nairobi and it has now spread to 16 counties across Kenya serving 2.5 million people directly.