In June, the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in Nairobi with “Durable Development – Shifting the Power: Building Community Resilience,” a special two-day conference that will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to brainstorm strategies for sustainable development in the region.
KCDF was formed in 1997 by a group of professionals to adapt the community foundation model to one inspired by Kenya’s Harambee spirit of community self-help. Harambee means “all pull together” in Swahili. It appears on the Kenya coat of arms and is its official motto.
At the AGAG 2017 Conference in April, Vuyiswa Sidzumo, Director of the C.S. Mott Foundation South Africa office, highlighted the important but often unrecognized work of local organizations in African communities. The session on “The Role of Community Philanthropy in Advancing Africa’s Development Agenda” explored how organizations are leveraging resources in their communities to make a difference. Sidzumo encouraged participants to think of ways to improve and to partner with African organizations, pointing to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, one of the biggest grantmakers in South Africa, and its success in building the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. “This is one billion-rand project (about $75 million USD) that demonstrates that local organizations have the capacity to manage large-scale projects: so why are we still talking about capacity?” she asked.
In advancing Africa’s development agenda, the balance of international and local funding isn’t about the math, but about strategic partnerships that drive collective action. For 20 years, with support from Kenyans and organizations like Aga Khan Foundation and Ford Foundation, KCDF has helped communities mobilize and invest local resources to meet both present and future needs. Community philanthropy helps to build positive interdependence because communities establish their priorities and contribute their resources. Shifting the power back to communities means promoting local solutions and models that enhance community resilience while growing strong sustainable organizations.
The KCDF Anniversary Celebration will be held June 22-23 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, visit the KCDF website. For key insights from KCDF’s 20 years working with communities, visit the KCDF resource library online or check out the KCDF Youtube channel.