Building Foundations to Foster Aspirations in Kibera

Written by Hannah Bain, Communications Manager

Growing up just a few miles outside of Kibera, George Kuria always knew that residents faced many challenges, but he also recognized that the community was teeming with growing ambition and immeasurable potential. Now, he leads an international microinsurance and risk management company and serves on CFK’s Board of Directors to bring greater opportunity to Kibera. 

George first heard about CFK from one of his good friends from university, Francis Kibet, who is currently CFK’s Board Treasurer. Drawn to the transparency and sustainability of the organization, George began serving on CFK’s Board of Directors more than six years ago and held the role of Chair of the Board in 2019 

“It has been an exciting journey with CFK,” George said. “We have learned and changed significantly as an organization, and our roles as Board Members have shifted with that. In the beginning, the Board had to focus on finances and processes, but now we get to discuss programs and expansion. Meeting people who participated in or were served by CFK programs and are now working for CFK or in the community is encouraging; that is impact.” 

Finding Opportunities for Impact

Soon after George first joined the Board, CFK was planning for the design and development of the Binti Pamoja Centre, which would anchor the Girls Empowerment Program and serve as a central safe space for girls in the community. Always focused on “giving the best where [he] can,” George convinced an architect he knew to design the centre pro-bono. The resulting three-story facility, which includes one of the only usable rooftops in Kibera, remains a distinct building in the community and is a testament to some of CFK’s early efforts concerning girls’ empowerment. 

CFK Binti Pamoja Centre
CFK Binti Pamoja Centre under construction in 2017 (Photo Credit, CFK).

“I have two daughters, and seeing the challenges they go through and the limited opportunities they have access to outside of an informal settlement has made me realize how much more difficult it must be for girls in a place like Kibera,” George said. “CFK strives to be a stepping stone to build opportunities, especially for young girls. A few years back, we had a young lady from KiberaSusan Mueni Waita, earn an award from the Queen of England; those are the stories we want to keep seeing and sharing. 

Earning Goodwill and Fostering Aspirations

Spending more than half a decade on CFK’s Board, George has witnessed the organization overcome challenges and make constant improvements to ensure transparency and build trust and goodwill with its partners and the Kibera community. 

“I would love to see CFK be recognized as the premium NGO in Kibera for the real impact they do on the ground,” George said. “I think focusing on health programs is especially important in low-income communities. Because it is hand-to-mouth for many living in Kibera, people have to be able to work every day, and addressing health challenges early and quickly gives them a better opportunity to do that. 

Acknowledging that promoting comprehensive health requires work outside of the clinic, George also believes that investment in mental health and nutrition services is critical to keeping the community healthy and fostering ever-growing aspirations. While George always wants CFK to remain strong and secure in Kibera, he also hopes to see the organization expand to other informal settlements in Kenya. 

“We’re focused on transitioning more programs from the vision stage to the implementation stage, and the [measurement and evaluation] reports are starting to show the fruits of our successes,” George said. “As we look at 20 years and beyond, everything is in place for even greater growth.” 

Learn more about our Girls Empowerment Program.

Stories of Progress

The Power of Lishe Bora: Meet Edith & Lexi
When Edith realized her daughter was underweight, she reached out to our nutrition program for help. Less than a year later, her daughter was successfully discharged and is now able to enjoy a happy, healthy childhood.
Learning to Listen: Advisory Council Member Steve Arnold
With experience traveling and living in informal settlements in Africa, India, and China, our newest Advisory Council member, Steve Arnold, reflects on the importance of social context and listening in effective development work.
What we learned from our friend Madeleine Albright
We were fortunate to have Madeleine Albright as a member of our Global Advisory Council. Co-founder and board chair, Rye Barcott, reflects on his friendship with Secretary Albright and shares three lessons we can learn from her life of service.