Kennedy Odede

Founder & CEO

Kennedy is one of Africa’s best-known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. He is a New York Times best-selling author and the Co-Chair of the Youth Panel for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. He was raised in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, where he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty. Still, he dreamed about changing his community.

While working at a factory in 2004, Kennedy saved 20 cents, purchased a soccer ball, and started the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) movement. Driven by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirits of the people of Kibera, SHOFCO became the largest grassroots organization in the slum.

Although he was entirely informally educated, 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 honors in Sociology. Kennedy was awarded the 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship, which is given to the world’s top emerging social entrepreneurs. He won the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition, wrote two Op-Eds that appeared in the New York Times, was named one of Forbes’ 2014 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs, and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. His work has been featured in the PBS documentary Half the Sky, by Chelsea Clinton and Maria Menounos on NBC, by President Bill Clinton, and on multiple occasions by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Kennedy speaks six languages, is a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. He splits his time between Nairobi and New York City.

Select Awards, Speaking Engagements, and Published Works

  • Business Daily's Top 40 Men Under 40 Kenya, 2014
  • The Future Awards Africa: Prize for Advocacy, 2014
  • Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship: People's Choice Winner, Social Entrepreneur, 2014
  • Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, 2014
  • Transform Kenya Rookie of the Year, 2014
  • "Terrorism’s Fertile Ground", New York Times, 2014
  • Aspen Ideas Festival, Panelist: "Future Megacities and the Fate of Millions" & "Communities that Thrive", 2014
  • Global Philanthropy Forum, Speaker: "Conferring Dignity while Leveraging Demographic Change", 2014
  • Forbes 30 under 30: Social Entrepreneurs List, 2014
  • Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, 2013
  • Huffington Post's Ignite Good Challenge Early Entry Winner, 2013
  • Humanity in Action Senior Fellow, 2012
  • UN Association of Young Professionals for International Cooperation Award for Innovation in Africa, 2011   
  • Dell Social Innovation Competition, Grand Prize and People’s Choice Awards Winner, 2011
  • Wesleyan Memorial Prize, for scholarship and leadership, 2011  
  • CGI Univeristy, Panelist: closing plenary with President Clinton and Sean Penn, 2011
  • Echoing Green Fellow, 2010-2012
  • "Slumdog Tourism", New York Times, 2010
  • Clinton Global Initiative University Outstanding Commitment Award, 2010                                                                                                            
  • Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace Award, 2009