Willice Onyango is the Founder and Executive Director of The Youth Cafe, a premier youth organization based in Kenya. He previously served as global youth representative to the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post 2015, that was co-chaired by the British Prime minister, Liberian and Indonesian presidents; in the African Union Working Group on Food Security and Demographic Dividend; and as the chairperson for International Youth Council, Kenya. He has been invited to speak at numerous international forums spanning 28 countries, including the 68th UN General Assembly; World Bank Youth Forum, AU Heads of States Summit, European Investment Bank’s Africa Day, and among other conferencess on youth, development, and democracy. He is an alumnus of the One Young World, International Young Leaders Assembly, and completed Civic Leadership Institute at the Staley School of Leadership, Kansas State University in the USA. Willice is the author of the ‘Coalition for Kenya Youth Manifesto’ that unified the aspirations of everydaythe ordinary Kenyan youth into a common philosophy, leading to the publication and launch of the first ever non-partisan blueprint for Kenyan youth. He is a regular columnist for The Star Newspaper, The Standard Newspaper, Huffington Post, Open Democracy, World Economic Forum, among other publications.
Willice was raised by his uncle in the rural town of Kombewa, in Kenya. Mountainaious and rocky, Kombewa is is a regular destination for tourists who come to see the huge rock formations. Lying within the shores of Lake Victoria, much of the local economy revolves around fishing. It’s a beautiful place to call home, yet life for most people is a daily struggle. The scourge of HIV is high, school dropout rates rampant, and child marriages painfully common. Growing up in this rural part of western Kenya, he experienced extreme poverty, lack of opportunity, and deep inter-generational inequality.
However, Willice also witnessed the palpable hope that persists in young people and recognized that people sought something different for themselves, their families and their communities. Years later, Willice would be selected to the Mandela Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders due to his community work. Visionaries like Nelson Mandela and George Washington showed Willice that great, systemic change can come from within. But none of us rest on the accomplishment of the past,even those as momentous as Mandela’s. But if we live our values and empower our young people, then they can pick up the work of the past , and lead us into the future. This belief has inspired Willice him to build the solutions to poverty among young people through addressing one if its core obstacles- the prohibitive levels of youth deprivation.
In 2012, Willice was honored to be part of a group of a bright and motivated young people selected to give input to the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post 2015 Agenda. Together they devised the model that The Youth Cafe utilizes today. This partnership is a unique, pioneering collaboration in the field of international development. Bolstered by grassroots knowledge, he has dedicated his live to bringing hope to young people. In 2017, Willice authored the internationally appraised Kenya Youth Manifesto.