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Kennedy Odede started Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) in 2004 with passion, 20 cents and a soccer ball. Growing up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, he experienced extreme poverty, violence, lack of opportunity, and deep gender inequality.
However, Kennedy also witnessed the palpable hope that persists in slums and recognized that people sought something different for themselves, their families and their communities. Visionaries like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela showed Kennedy that great, systemic change can come from within. Women like Kennedy’s mother inspired him to build the solutions to urban poverty through addressing one if its core obstacles—the prohibitive level of gender inequality. In 2007, Kennedy met Jessica Posner, a bright and driven American student studying abroad. Together they devised the model that SHOFCO utilizes today. SHOFCO’s innovation is to link girls’ education to deeply-needed community-wide services. This increases the value of girls and women, invites both genders to participate in the solution, and allows girls’ schools to be portals for large-scale social change.
Kennedy and Jessica’s partnership is a unique, pioneering collaboration in the field of international development. Bolstered by grassroots knowledge, they have dedicated their lives to bringing hope to urban communities.