Shifting the Development Paradigm

It’s time to let communities set the agenda for change.

Shifting the Paradigm

Solving complex social problems starts at the grassroots. SHOFCO puts urban settlement residents at the center of our model, because community trust and agenda-setting are essential to unlocking solutions that work. We therefore believe Governments and the development sector must prioritize the decisions of communities themselves, to drive transformational change.

Where settlements have successfully responded to the COVID-19 crises, it is community engagement and advocacy that has opened the door to effective solutions. Response efforts rooted in trusted community networks create pathways for coordination with governments and others to deliver services more effectively.

Nurse administering medicine to children at a SHOFCO clinic

Despite this case for local community driven solutions, proximate leaders are systemically locked out of funding and recognition. Community-based solutions and Less than 1% of the $150 billion in Official Development Assistance in 2018 reached local development actors. In fact, research by Echoing Green and Bridgespan revealed the unrestricted net assets of black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts; a startling statistic made worse when considering that unrestricted funding represents a proxy for trust. Furthermore, only 11% of philanthropic “big bets” went to organizations led by people of color between 2010-2014.

SHOFCO encourages governments and policy leaders to partner with, listen to, and scale up community-led solutions. In addition, we support immediate shifts in resources and financing towards community-led solutions, moving towards a new development paradigm that promotes racial equity and recognizes deep-rooted community trust as the most powerful tool to deliver impact.

What is SHOFCO doing ?

SHOFCO is involved in shifting the development paradigm by:

Demonstrating a blueprint for community-led development through our SHOFCO Urban Network (SUN) organizing platform, and advocating for government and other stakeholders to partner with SUN



Decolonizing philanthropy and confronting the racial disparities that prevent leaders of color from accessing equitable funding, recognition, and advancement opportunities. 



Shining a spotlight on the power of grassroots solutions by launching the inaugural World Communities Forum and developing a Global Alliance for Communities

What are People Saying ?

“SHOFCO is a remarkable example of citizen-led change, created by people living in very challenging conditions. As Africa and the world urbanize and more informal settlements are created, SHOFCO provides an inspiring example of local creativity and solutions.”


~ Conrad N. Hilton, Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn, announcing the award of the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize to SHOFCO.

SHOFCO exemplifies a global model of community-led transformation that Bridgespan research identifies as “the most ambitious, comprehensive, and integrated” among over 10 such organizations worldwide.



~ Principal, The Bridgespan Group.