Today, I am thrilled to share that philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott and educator Dan Jewett have announced their investment in SHOFCO’s 5-year-strategy for urban slum transformation. This gift sets us on a path towards a new paradigm for partnership and impact, advancing our vision to create a self-sustaining model for community-led slum development.
SHOFCO began with a modest investment, when as a teenager, I saved 20 cents from my $1-a-day factory job and bought a soccer ball. Starting out as a youth group, we used what little we had to bring about positive change in the community. My mother always said that “He who wears the shoes knows where it pinches”, and this idea became our guiding force. My mother’s insight taught me the importance of proximate leadership: the idea that people who live closest to a problem know best how to solve it. Fed up with charity and handouts, members of my community dreamed of unlocking the potential from within ourselves, to set the agenda for real and lasting transformation.
Nearly two decades later, SHOFCO is a grassroots movement that reaches 2.4 million urban slum residents across 23 urban slums in Kenya, with a model that links community organizing to deliver a community-led agenda for long-term and sustainable change. Our journey is only beginning to unfold.
We are living in a time where the systemic inequities of our world stand exposed. MacKenzie and Dan lead by example, with their deep belief in proximate leadership, and their commitment to fundamentally shifting power and resources to the grassroots. Their approach offers a response to deeply entrenched racial disparities in philanthropy: data on big bets for social change found that between 2010 and 2014, only 11% went to organisations led by people of colour.
Real transformation in African development means shifting power to the grassroots and moving away from traditional aid dependence. Durable progress requires that the future is created and led by Africans, on our own terms. Today marks a monumental step towards this vision.
SHOFCO has a plan and vision to implement this shift towards community ownership and autonomy, at scale. On our current trajectory, accelerated by COVID-19 response activities, we are developing a critical mass of community leaders to transform urban slums at national scale in Kenya. In doing so, we will create a blueprint for grassroots leadership and slum transformation around the world.
Thank you for your belief in SHOFCO, in proximate leadership, and for your partnership on this trailblazing journey.
All my best,