• The Philanthropist is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs
• His work has been featured by President Bill Clinton, Madonna, Beyonce, and on multiple occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times and his book A Path Appears.
Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong'o on Monday, January 17, 2022, celebrated Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) co-founder and CEO, Kennedy Odede, for his contributions to the lives of people living in slums.
While marking Martin Luther King Day, in honour ofthe life and legacy of the civil rights crusader, the Kenyan-born actress recalled how Odede was inspired to help poor Kenyans by following in the footsteps of the American activist.
"This #MLKDay, I'm reminded of the story of fellow Kenyan, Kennedy Odede. Struggling to find a path out of Kibra, Kennedy discovered Dr King's literature at a community centre and said "[he] gave me a reason to believe you can change your own life and change your own community," Lupita stated on her social media.
She further highlighted how Odede has reignited hope for poor Kenyans living in slums by providing them with critical services such as clean water, health care and girl child education.
"Kennedy then created Shining Hope for Communities which builds urban promise by providing critical services and community advocacy platforms to people living in slums, as well as education for women and girls."
The Philanthropist is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs.
Of his 33 years, he lived in the Kibera slum for 23 years.
It is in that largest slum in Africa that he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty firsthand.
Being the oldest of eight children, he became a street child at the age of ten. But still, he dreamt of changing his community.
In 2004, he worked in a factory earning Sh100 for 10-hours of work. He saved 20 cents and used the savings to buy a soccer ball for the community. That is how SHOFCO came to be.
Kennedy received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University, becoming one of Kibera’s first to receive an education from an American liberal arts institution.
He graduated in 2012 as the Commencement Speaker and with honours in sociology.
His time at Wesleyan did not end at commencement; he served on the Wesleyan Board of Trustees.
Kennedy was awarded the 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship and was named to FORBES “30 under 30 lists” for top Social Entrepreneurs in 2014.
He won the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.
His work has been featured by President Bill Clinton, Madonna, Beyonce, and on multiple occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times and in his book A Path Appears.
Kennedy’s own writing has appeared on the op-ed pages of The New York Times, CNN and Project Syndicate.
Kennedy previously served as the youth co-chair for the United Nations International Commission for Financing of Global Education Opportunities.
He currently serves on the Wangari Maathai Foundation board and chairs the Varkey Foundation Alliance for Girls’ Education.
Kennedy speaks six languages, he is a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, and is an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.
He is a Young Global Leader (YGL) at the World Economic Forum and an Obama Foundation Africa Leader.
He is the New York Times Bestselling co-author of the book Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in African Slum, which he wrote with his wife and business partner, Jessica.