A Kenyan native transcended the barriers that often confine those in impoverished areas by emerging out of the harsh realities of poverty to the pinnacle of success.
Born and raised in Korogocho slum, Nairobi, Raphael Obonyo did not envision that one day he would be sitting on two international boards; the United Nations and World Bank.
According to his profile on the United Nations page, Obonyo emerged from the depths of the slums to the top one per cent.
From an early age, Obonyo lived in a single room with his parents and eight siblings. His father sacrificed to ensure they attained education.
"My father was a cook at the University of Nairobi. He walked 10 kilometres to and from work daily to support our large family. From an early age, I knew that education would be my only route out of poverty and hence took my studies seriously," he narrated.
In order to study on the weekends, Obonyo relied on his teacher, Stephen Kariuki, who allowed him to revise at his home. Through his hard work, he became one of the top KCPE performers in 1995 and was admitted to Dagoretti High School.
His father was, however, unable to raise the requisite funds for his secondary education - signalling a bleak future for Obonyo's studies.
His former primary schoolmates came to his aid and raised fees for his first term at the high school.
"In school, I faced hardships. I was sent home for non-payment of school fees frequently. During visiting days, I watched with envy as fellow students were visited by relatives clutching big shopping bags filled with food and goodies," he noted.
He travelled ten kilometres from Korogocho to McMillan Memorial Library in the city and back to study during holidays. Despite all these hurdles, however, he performed well and was admitted to the University of Nairobi in 2001.
Obonyo graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Management Services in 2005 and clinched a Master's in public policy at Duke University in the United States.
In 2012, he was selected among 16 youth across the world to serve on United Nations Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), and I was later nominated as a special adviser. He noted that his profile received the highest number of votes globally.
Through the role, he travelled to different countries around the world, spoke in forums and shared platforms with presidents and global leaders.
He also sits on other international bodies including Global Diplomatic Forum and the World Bank’s Global Coordination Board on Youth and Anti-Corruption.
His dream is to serve as the Secretary-General of the United Nations or the Kenyan president.