Home Agribusiness Aga Khan Foundation Raises Torch for Community Philanthropy In Kenya

Aga Khan Foundation Raises Torch for Community Philanthropy In Kenya

by Kwabe Ben

The Yetu Initiative, a collaboration of the Aga Khan Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is empowering civil society organizations (CSOs) in Kenya to not only mobilize resources locally but also collaboratively address community challenges with their county-level stakeholders.

Founded in 2014, the initiative has focused on strengthening the capacity of CSOs to fundraise and mobilize
resources, to advance the principles of self-reliance and locally sustained development. Working with CSOs
in addressing community challenges at the grass-roots level, Yetu Initiative has since supported 323 CSOs to
raise over KES 270 million, for locally led development projects across 29 counties in Kenya.

Former Makueni Governor prof. Kivutha Kibwana, who was the chief guest at the event, said community philanthropy was one of the most important socio-economic models in the country giving opportunities for correcting histories of inequity to dignity.

“It is twice as hard to achieve sustainability if there is no development led from the grassroots. We must
discard this notion that it is only the government that can come up with solutions to local problems. We
know and have seen through Yetu Initiative and the CSO community that the people themselves know and
understand the problems plaguing them and can prescribe solutions that can transform our local
communities, where they are”, he said.

From Left, Ms Sheila Karani-Monda, Deputy Director Office of Democracy, Governance, Peace and Security, USAID with Mr. Riaz Nathu, Regional CEO, Aga Khan Foundation (ctr) & Mr. Matt Reeves, Aga Khan Foundation Global Lead, Civil Society at the Yetu Festival event.

Irene Gathinji, the project director said, Yetu Initiative has invested approximately USD 11 million in the past
nine years. Half of this was raised by local Kenyan CSOs and local development organizations (LDOs), to
implement community initiatives and ultimately invest back in their communities.

“A multi-stakeholder approach involving citizens, government, and private sector participation is crucial in
building sustainable locally-led development models. In fostering trust as a crucial component of the partnership between CSOs and communities, Yetu Initiative has enabled civil society to sit at the same table as communities and discuss challenges and concerns with tangible solutions”, she said.

With constant communication, feedback, and engagement, diverse groups including disadvantaged and
marginalized communities can now be involved in program design and implementation, to ensure
sustainability and accountability of those initiatives.

Through this collaborative effort, Yetu Initiative has seen transformative changes in the communities such as the Isiolo Community Development Trust ( ICDT ) and the Makueni Development Trust ( MADET ) among others.

Yetu Initiative is currently working with over 250 CSOs to implement projects across the education, food
security, climate resilience, energy, and water sectors. Others include women and youth empowerment,
health, child protection, and disability sectors.

Cynthia Odhiambo, Regional Technical Advisor, Civil Society Program at the Aga Khan Foundation, stated
that the Yetu initiative supports CSOs and communities in understanding and identifying their challenges and intervention priorities while contributing their own solutions through boot camps.

“We have observed that local communities can be self-reliant in driving and achieving locally-led development. Accountability is therefore important for community philanthropy to succeed. Yetu Initiative and success lie in its ability to put communities at the center of development by bringing in their contribution, both in cash and in-kind, and getting them constantly involved, through civil society engagements”, she explained.

Yetu Initiative has been working with CSOs to strengthen the ecosystem of community philanthropy through the development of cutting-edge philanthropy platforms, building on the body of evidence through research, capacity building, and brokering CSO relations with the private sector and government. Since its inception, over 10,000 CSOs have been registered as members of local development organizations.

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