SHOFCO’s 20 Years of Impact

This year, SHOFCO marks 20 years of empowering local communities with the voice, access, and knowledge to shape their futures. And, what a time for it – as Kennedy Odede, SHOFCO’s founder and CEO, is named by TIME100 as one of the world’s most influential people in 2024.

To celebrate, we take a moment to reflect on our journey, and shine a light on the potential of citizen-led change. We owe our success to the power of community, proximate leadership and demand-led solutions, and call for reform across the international development sector to follow suit.

Join our movement today, in this pivotal moment, to unleash the inherent power, dignity, and hope of communities in informal settlements.

Here are some of our favorite moments that demonstrate what a community-based organization can achieve in 20 years!


Kennedy uses his last 20 cents to buy a soccer ball to unite his community through earning $1 for 10 hours of work at a factory.

After playing soccer, he would sit down with his friends to speak about the challenges in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, where he had lived for 23 years, experiencing extreme poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity. Together they would devise solutions in a safe and enjoyable environment.


First class of girls was admitted to the Kibera School for Girls (KSG) to break the cycle of poverty and inequality in urban communities and enable young girls to reach their full potential. Receiving an education means that they will be able to earn more, be less likely to contract HIV, and have fewer, healthier children who are more likely to reach adulthood.


Margaret’s Safe Place opens to provide temporary shelter for women and girls who have been victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

First clinic opens in Kibera, combating the inaccessibility and poor quality of primary healthcare and health education in slum communities where the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, waterborne diseases, malaria, and other health problems remain high.


Golda Chanoff Community Center opens with a community room, library, and computer room, providing a safe space to access information and resources for free, promoting literacy and education, and encouraging community engagement.


First SHOFCO water tower built in Kibera


Kennedy is invited to become a Clinton Global Initiative member, and joins a panel with Bill Clinton and Sean Penn at the Clinton Global Initiative University’s closing Plenary Session, a forum that brings together young leaders from across the globe to share, discuss, and formulate action on global issues.


Mathare School for Girls (MSG) opens in Mathare, Nairobi


Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum, a book by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner Odede, becomes a New York Times bestseller.

SHOFCO Urban Network (SUN) is formalized as a community-led advocacy platform. SUN brings together individuals and households through social groups and organizes them to actively seek tangible change in their community and society at large.


Pioneered an innovative, first-of-its-kind aerial piping system, delivering clean, affordable water to households in Kibera. The aerial pipes connect to water kiosks throughout Kibera and Mathare, allowing clean water to flow through pipes in the air – without fear of tampering and contamination. The water is delivered at a rate almost 60% lower than private water vendors and prices are consistent, regardless of seasonal changes.

Mathare clinic opens to reduce the staggering disparities seen across this collection of slums in Nairobi which has a population of approximately 500,000 people. The clinic provides low-cost medical services addressing primary healthcare issues and expanding SHOFCO’s reach.


SUN – a large-scale advocacy platform – mobilizes 5,000 people for a peace rally to unite communities around a common cause and end violent election protests that were disrupting the local economy.

Formalized sustainable livelihoods training sessions and job readiness initiatives begin enabling slum communities to break survival mode and plan for the future. The trainings serve 4,248 beneficiaries in Kibera and Mathare.

Honored with the Hilton Humanitarian Prize from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


The First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Margaret Kenyatta officially commissioned SHOFCO’s new Kibera School for Girls building and SHOFCO launched science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes to enhance the students’ innovation, creativity, and exploration.


Expansion to Kisumu, the 9th slum community reached by SHOFCO, in the 3rd city in Kenya. This is the beginning of SHOFCO’s efforts to serve communities in peri-urban and rural areas, feeders to larger slums in Kenya, including Mathare and Kibera. Here, SHOFCO’s vision expands beyond an urban promise to a promise for the nation, addressing urbanization at its core.


Becomes the most recognized COVID-19 response organization as the pandemic hit and international players left, screening 1.8 million people for COVID-19 at clinics and through household-level outreach within 3 months.

Distributed 28M liters of free, clean water to reduce the spread of disease and provided handwashing stations that had 52M uses, educating communities on good sanitation practices.

Provided 34,000 families with emergency food support to break survival mode.

Mobilized 1,800 community health volunteers to support with screening and to provide knowledge about proper hygiene techniques and the importance of using clean water for consumption.


Hosted the World Communities Forum, a virtual gathering providing an opportunity for community-based practitioners and likeminded allies to connect and shine a light on solutions that hold the key to global progress, but are too often overlooked.

Set up the Global Alliance for Communities to drive systemic change and empower grassroots leadership. The coalition, incubated by SHOFCO, has reached 150+ community-based organizations across 3 continents.


SUN’s peacekeeping efforts are instrumental in the most peaceful elections in Kenyan history.


Kenyan counties reached by one or more SHOFCO programs
community members have access to safe and clean water
individuals impacted by a SHOFCO program
people trained in vocational skills
people trained in entrepreneurship
SHOFCO Urban Network (SUN) members
GBV cases handled
people reached by community health volunteers
library users

What’s next?

Today, we stand proudly as a leading, international voice on urbanization and international development best practices. But, with climate change intensifying and global populations bulging, now is the time for our greatest momentum.

Will you join us as we shape the next 20 years?