Kennedy Odede

Kennedy Odede

Founder & CEO

Kennedy is one of Africa’s best- known community organizers and social entrepreneurs. Kennedy lived for twenty- three of his thirty-three years in the Kibera Slum, the largest slum in Africa, where he experienced the devastating realities of life in extreme poverty first hand. The oldest of eight children, he became a street-child at the age of ten. Still, he dreamed about changing his community. In 2004 he had a job in a factory earning $1 for ten hours of work. He saved 20 cents and used this to buy a soccer ball and start Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).  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. His time at Wesleyan did not end at commencement; he served on the Wesleyan Board of Trustees. Kennedy was awarded 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 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 Chaired the Varkey Foundation Alliance for Girls’ Education.

Kennedy speaks six languages, is a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.  Kennedy 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.