Partner story
By Stan Getui

Maono Space: Building community and supporting Kenyan changemakers

The coastal region of Kenya has a unique engagement with civic and political life. The region has faced significant socio-economic marginalisation, dating back to Kenya’s independence, which has in turn limited political mobilisation. However, the 2010 constitution offered a roadmap to fix the thorny relationship between the six counties at Kenya’s coastal strip and the government. 

In 2020, Luminate made targeted grants at the coast to continue this positive shift in civic engagement. These grants supported the advancement of fundamental freedoms, and anchoring social, economic, and political affairs of communities, with a particular focus on historically marginalised groups.

Part of this support was a grant to Open Institute to strengthen collaboration for youth and women and to create spaces for the Community-Based Organisations to operate. Two years on, Open Institute announced the opening of Maono Space in Malindi, Kilifi County, an innovative co-working space designed specifically for changemakers. 

Maono Space, which hosts over 40 groups, was developed with the specific needs of community-based mobilisers and organisers in mind. It offers a one-of-a-kind collaborative and supportive environment, with high-speed internet, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, and workspaces. 

Electoral campaign agendas at the coast do not mirror citizens demands. This is due to limited public participation and intentional breaks in the region’s governance accountability mechanisms. With minimal media coverage and low investment in new media such as podcasting and content creation it is challenging for people to tell their stories. Furthermore, civil society organisations (CSOs) at the coast have historically worked in isolation without adequate resources.

Maono Space is a platform that supports the difficult work of CSOs, making it easier for them to mobilise for local and national governance issues. This has directly contributed to a political wave where more women and youth are running for public office and winning.