The Yetu Initiative is celebrating mobilizing Sh270 million for 323 civil society organizations (CSOs) in Kenya to tackle community challenges with their stakeholders at the county level.

The initiative, which was founded in 2014, is a collaborative effort between Aga Khan Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Yetu Initiative has been focusing on consolidating the capacity of CSOs across Kenya to mobilize resources to promote self-reliance and locally sustained development endeavors.

The initiative has been working with CSOs to address challenges facing communities at the grassroots and has supported locally-led development projects in 29 counties across Kenya.

During the '2023 Yetu Initiative lessons learned and capstone Festival' in Nairobi, Former Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said community philanthropy bolstered socio-economic development.

“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,” said Kibwana.

He added, “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.”

Project Director Irene Gathinji says Yetu Initiative has invested about Sh1.5 billion in the last nine years, half of it raised by Kenyan CSOs and local development organizations (LDOs).

“A multi-stakeholder approach involving citizens, government, and private sector participation is crucial in building sustainable locally led development models,” said Gathinji.

She added, “In fostering trust as a crucial component of 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.”

USAID Deputy Director Office of Democracy, Governance, Peace and Security Sheila Karani-Monda, Aga Khan Foundation Regional CEO Riaz Nathu and Aga Khan Foundation Global Lead, Civil Society Matt Reeves. PHOTO/AGA KHAN FOUNDATION

Yetu Initiative says collaborations has seen it realize change in the communities including Isiolo Community Development Trust (ICDT) and Makueni Development Trust (MADET).

Yetu works with over 250 CSOs on projects in education, food security, climate resilience, energy, water, women and youth empowerment, health, child protection and disability.

Aga Khan Foundation Civil Society Program Regional Technical Advisor Cynthia Odhiambo says the initiative backs CSOs and communities to identify, cognize and overcome hurdles.