Using the power of philanthropy in the public interest in Kenya

Irũngũ Houghton and Constant Cap

Kenya, like the rest of Africa, is not overpopulated. It is just over-concentrated and deeply inequitable. At the same time, it is home to innovation, young industry, a growing internal consumer market and a middle class with disposable incomes. New opportunities for philanthropy exist in these new conditions.

In July 2016, Yetu, a community philanthropy initiative set up under the auspices of the Aga Khan Foundation USA and USAID, organized a twitter campaign (#KOT) which discovered that 93 per cent of Kenyans give. New narratives are also emerging. Dr Alex Awiti, director of the East African Institute at the Aga Khan University, tweets of philanthropic giving as an expression of sovereignty, the stirring of a society that wishes to be free of foreign development assistance. Public interest campaigners are also increasingly articulating the need for philanthropy to embrace governance, public spaces and public participation issues. They argue that mobilizing national and community resources to tackle systemic problems is a more effective response than development assistance.

Kilimani: an emerging model for community foundations

The Kilimani Project Foundation emerged out of the recognition that choice, livability and community empowerment were missing in one of Kenya’s high-density suburbs. While the area was a melting pot for brand companies, restaurants, malls, creative information technology hubs and arts centres, it was not yet an integrated neighbourhood.

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