Raphael Obonyo: From Korogocho Slums To Working At UN, World Bank

Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Others have to work their way up to become what they want to be. Raphael Obonyo’s story is one of triumph, having come from a very poor background to being a successful public policy officer working in global organizations including the United Nations and World Bank.

Background and childhood

Raphael grew up in Korogocho, an urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Having been born and raised in harsh conditions in the slums, he had a personal experience regarding matters urbanization, underdevelopment, poverty and poverty.


Raphael was a bright student since he was in primary school. He was among the top students in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in 1995. Thereafter he was admitted to the University of Nairobi.

After his undergraduate education, he did community work in Korogocho before clinching a scholarship from the International Fellowships Program through the Ford Foundation to take a master’s in Public Policy at Duke University in the United States.

Career at United Nations

In 2012 he was selected to serve on the United Nations Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and he was later nominated as a special adviser.

YAB is a board comprising 16 young people from across the world. The board members are volunteers, and for two years they serve three main roles: represent young people in local and international forums, advise the UN on how to engage urban youth in sustainable urbanization, and develop and strengthen youth participation and advocacy in youth-led initiatives.

Through the UN role, Raphael traveled to different countries around the world, spoke at many forums, and met and shared platforms with presidents and other global leaders.

Raphael has also worked and served as a consultant with the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Centre for Governance and Development (CGD), African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) and other agencies on projects and programs dealing with Youth, Public Policy, Development, Governance and Human Rights. He has published several reports and research works over the years.

Not only that, he is now a board member of international bodies such as the Global Diplomatic Forum and the World Bank’s Global Coordination Board on Youth and Anti-Corruption.

Philanthropist, social change advocate

Back home, Raphael has invested in social group called The Youth Congress, a youth-led initiative. The initiative provides mostly young men and women in the urban slums and other informal settlements with a platform to enhance youth leadership and meaningful participation in socio-economic and political processes.

RO, Kenya

He is also the founder of Miss Koch Initiative, Koch FM Community radio, The Youth Congress, Nacka-Nairobi and K-Youth Media and is a strategic advisor and a member of key youth organizations and organizations working on youth related issues at the local, national and International fora.