Community philanthropy in Kenya and beyond

Janet Mawiyoo

Applying a community philanthropy lens is the route to achieving sustainable development and bring local resources to the fore

My memory of using the term ‘community philanthropy’ goes back to the late 1990s when together with other civic leaders who were concerned about the undesired effects of development aid, I ventured into long conversations on what we desired to see and what capacity building meant.

Masai beadworkers in Narok County, Kenya. Credit: KCDF

The idea of an approach where local groups understood their challenges and were part of designing solutions, prioritising what they wanted to do, and were ready to contribute anything they had, resonated with me very much. Having been exposed to diverse development efforts in different parts of Kenya, it was important to ensure my engagement resulted in rebuilding, rejuvenating and invigorating communities’ capacities to recognise their collective power and capabilities in resolving their challenges. This is an approach that goes contrary to a lot of conventional aid practices that insist on quick solutions by ‘throwing’ money at projects without making the time to ask local people if the planned projects resonate with them and are their priority.

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