Shining Hope on Communities (Shofco), a community-based organisation in Nairobi’s Kibera has unveiled three new buses that will be used by Shofco Urban Network (Sun) members.
The 67-seater and two 34-seater buses, which were unveiled at Kibera Academy grounds on Saturday, will serve residents in Nairobi's informal settlements.
A brainchild of Mr Kennedy Odede, Shofco Urban Network is a grassroots movement that brings together individuals and households through social groups. The groups work towards bringing positive change in their communities.
Having grown up in Kibera slums, Mr Odede saw the gap between policy and reality and founded Shofco Urban Network which seeks to reach 2.4 million urban slum dwellers in 24 slums.
The organisation has created a self-sustaining group savings and loans programme for the members and their families with over 1,100 active saving groups.
Members have a sacco that has given out Sh100 million in loans to date. They also have Sun-DUKA where members buy goods at relatively cheaper prices.
SUN has also given rise to a number of women’s enterprises, one of them being liquid soap making.
Shofco Women’s Empowerment Project is also another arm of Sun that provides business training, support and additional income for women living with HIV in Kibera and Mathare slums as well as Sun Youth that educate and empower young people between 18 and 35 years old.
Over the years, Sun has used its vast network to support government initiatives by working closely with the local administration on issues like Huduma Namba registration, National Census and Nyumba Kumi Initiative.
“I have served in Kibera for 13 years, I thank Mr Odede for bringing together communities for development through a bottom-up approach. I would like others to embrace this model,” said Kibera Chief Joseph Songa.
In 2004, Mr Odede organised football tournaments that brought people together. That is how Shofco was born. It has now grown into a grassroots movement that has transformed urban slums through the provision of critical services to all, community advocacy platforms, education and leadership, development for women and girls. It has an office in New York and in four counties in Kenya.
SUN is just one of the many arms of Shofco with Level Three hospitals in Kibera and Mathare as well as girls’ schools in the two slums. The buses will also assist the hospitals and schools.
Shofcos’s model of transformation has been embraced by world leaders such as USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who is also part of the Global Alliance for Communities (GAC), a coalition of 150 proximate leaders stretching across the globe, working on the world’s most pressing challenges.
This model of leadership has earned Mr Odede several accolades, including the Head of State Commendation (HSC) from President Uhuru Kenyatta last December for his work in Kenyan urban slums during the Covid-19 period.