The 100 Most Influential People of 2024: Kennedy Odede

Time Magazine | April 23, 2024

Kennedy Odede, our 2013 New Voices Fellow, has been named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People this year.

“Kennedy is living proof that individuals can lead themselves, and their communities, out of poverty. His background—a refugee growing up with no formal schooling in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Kenya—gives him a deep understanding of his community and others like it,” writes actress Salma Hayek Pinault. “And his work has earned him the trust and admiration of all those around him.”

Kennedy is the Founder and CEO of SHOFCO, Kenya’s largest grassroots movement, and one of Africa’s most esteemed social entrepreneurs and community organizers. He is best known for his award-winning work to localize aid and direct resources and decision-making power to local community organizations.

Kennedy became a street-child at the age of 10 and lived in the Kibera Slum for 23 years. During this time, he experienced extreme poverty first hand, but also witnessed the palpable hope that persists in slums and recognized that people sought something different for themselves, their families and their communities. Through earning $1 for 10 hours of work at a factory, Kennedy managed to save 20 cents to buy a soccer ball, which he used to bring community members together, and, with that, SHOFCO was born.

Today, SHOFCO impacts more than 2.4 million people each year in Kenya by organizing and strengthening community groups across 17 slums and fostering partnerships to deliver essential services to support them.