Kennedy Odede Nominated for TIME 100 Impact Awards

Kennedy Odede is the Founder and CEO of SHOFCO, a Beacon of Hope in Kenya’s Slums

In the heart of Kibera, Kenya’s largest urban slum, Kennedy Odede’s journey from adversity to empowerment is nothing short of remarkable. Growing up amid poverty and violence, Odede faced the harsh realities of life in the slums. However, the love and support he received from his community inspired him to embark on a mission to bring positive change to the lives of those living in similar conditions.

Now, at 38 years old, Odede stands as the founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a grassroots organization that has become one of Africa’s largest. The organization’s primary goal is to improve living conditions in Kenya’s slums through a range of community-led initiatives, addressing issues from education and small business support to clean water, internet access, and public health.

SHOFCO has evolved into a beacon of hope, serving nearly 2.4 million people across Kenya. Odede’s approach is distinct from traditional international aid organizations, emphasizing a grassroots movement where the community actively participates in identifying and solving its problems. Odede notes, “It’s the idea that we are a community, that we know our problems and our challenges, and that we can help ourselves.”

Kennedy Odede. Courtesy

One of SHOFCO’s earliest success stories is the Kibera School for Girls, a tuition-free institution launched in 2009. The school, part of Kenya’s ambitious education reforms, has become one of the top 10 public schools in Nairobi. Remarkably, its students consistently excel in national exams, achieving a 100% transition rate to secondary education—a significant accomplishment in a region where access to education for girls is a challenge.

Odede’s commitment extends beyond education. Recognizing the issue of unemployment, especially among young Kenyans, SHOFCO initiated an employability training program in 2019, impacting over 650 young individuals. In September, the organization launched a comprehensive five-year program aimed at enrolling 20,000 young people in its Technical and Educational Vocation Training program while providing business training and grants to nearly 50,000 women.

The impact of SHOFCO’s work is not only felt locally but resonates on the global stage. Kennedy Odede has been selected for the prestigious TIME 100 Impact Awards, recognizing his leadership and the transformative impact of SHOFCO’s community-driven initiatives. Expressing his gratitude, Odede emphasized the acknowledgment of SHOFCO’s impactful initiatives dedicated to serving underprivileged communities in Kenya.

The TIME 100 Impact Awards, set to take place on November 17 in Kigali, Rwanda, will celebrate leaders driving positive change globally. Odede will share the stage with notable figures such as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Danai Gurira, actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd, Sherrie Silver, founder of the Sherrie Silver Foundation and IFAD Advocate for Rural Youth, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership Group.

Kennedy Odede. Courtesy: Kennedy Odede on X

The awards ceremony is part of TIME’s commitment to recognizing individuals making a positive impact on the world. The honorees will participate in the TIME100 Summit Africa, engaging in discussions to explore solutions for pressing global issues. The event, presented by Visit Rwanda, aims to inspire collective action toward building a brighter future, bringing together influential figures and members of the TIME100 community.

Kennedy Odede’s story is not just one of personal triumph but a testament to the transformative power of community-driven initiatives. From the streets of Kibera to the global stage, Odede’s work continues to uplift and empower those who need it most. As he receives the TIME 100 Impact Award, Odede remains focused on the grassroots movement that drives SHOFCO, knowing that the real impact is felt on the ground in the communities he serves.


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