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Welcoming Mwendwa Catherine to Wasafiri

 

“The Nairobi Wasafiri office is a small and tightly-knit one; we take pride in the added value of each and every team member to the work that we do and the issues we aim to tackle. As our portfolios of work in East Africa continue to grow, we looked to bring on a new team member who could drive us in new and innovative directions beyond our core work, and do so with integrity and deep contextual insight. We are thrilled that Mwendwa accepted the position of Research Manager and Engagement Specialist as she brings the innovation, critical thinking, strong values and passion that will help us think in new ways and pursue new opportunities. Through her previous experience in research, community and stakeholder engagement particularly with young people across East Africa, Mwendwa brings an in-depth understanding of the political, social and economic dynamics at play across the region, placing her in a unique position to support the Conflict Portfolio as we explore new approaches to our work. We are so excited to have Mwendwa as our newest team member – karibu!” ~ Georgia Gilroy, Conflict Portfolio Lead, Wasafiri.

I am excited to join Wasafiri as a research and stakeholder engagement specialist working from the Nairobi Office!

Over the past 9 years, I have been facilitating knowledge development and collaboration processes in the philanthropy and conflict spaces across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. My focus has been on driving conversations, research and action on philanthropy policies, grant-making, countering violent extremism and building community resilience.

More recently, I have been involved in designing and leading philanthropy and corporate engagement programs for the East Africa Philanthropy Network, a regional membership network based in Nairobi, Kenya. In this space, I worked with local and global partners in establishing learning platforms across various thematic areas in East Africa. This was in an effort to strengthen and connect the sector, communities it supports and other stakeholders in the private and public sector. Some of the work included co-creating philanthropy data strategies for three East African Countries, conceptualizing and coordinating regional philanthropy platforms that provided learning and sharing opportunities for foundations working in East Africa and facilitating multi-stakeholder engagements.

In enhancing the influence of philanthropy and community engagement in policy processes, advocacy was a key element of my role. I led the design and coordination of various collaborative advocacy forums most notably Guidelines for Philanthropy – Government Engagement, Tax Policy for Philanthropy in East Africa, and awareness campaigns on the value of local philanthropy.

I am passionate about the potential that community solidarity and agency have in building peaceful and just societies. In the recent past I have been part of various research projects on conflict and specifically building community resilience in countering violent extremism under various partners including USAID, the British High Commission and UNDP Kenya across 8 counties.

What drew me to Wasasifi is the organisation’s commitment to understanding social complexities, and its responsiveness in unpacking key issues to assist development actors make better decisions on investment and generate more sustainable solutions for the communities they work for. This for me is an opportunity to leverage this unique experience to enrich the team’s commitment to amplifying the voice of the communities across various policy processes, as well as to support stakeholders forge meaningful connections with communities.