Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. government and is supported in its implementation by IREX.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa. The Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014, brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a program of the U.S. government and is supported in its implementation by IREX.

Quick Facts

  • The network of Mandela Washington Fellows includes 3,000 alumni and 700 Fellows arriving in 2018. To date, the Fellowship has received more than 220,000 applications.
  • Fellows are recruited through an open call for applications for candidates between the ages of 25 and 35 across all 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Fellows have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, and communities.
  • Since the Fellowship’s inception, IREX has partnered with more than 450 institutions from the private, nonprofit, governmental, and multilateral sectors in the US and Africa.
  • Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows continue to build the skills they developed during their time in the United States through support from US embassies, USAID, and affiliated partners, including regional conferences, professional practicum experiences, and mentoring opportunities.

Impact at a Glance

  • In 2016 and 2017, Fellows contributed more than 25,000 hours of community service to US organizations.
  • Serving as a host institution supports partners in forging and building on existing strategic relationships. Over 90% of host institutions said their participation in the Fellowship was influential in forming new relationships or partnerships with private companies.  
  • From 2014 to 2017, Fellows connected with more than 23,000 Americans in their universities’ communities and visited more than 2,500 organizations.
  • More than 77% of Fellows have reported sustained relationships with other Fellows to foster a strong network across 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Fellows have completed nearly 324,000 hours of workforce development training through the Professional Development Experience and practicum placements in the US and Africa. 
  • Between 2014 and 2017, the Fellowship reached 3,000 young African leaders directly. In turn, they have gone on to touch more than 45 million people through their businesses and nonprofits.
  • 85% of Fellows who own a business saw an increase in their revenue in the year after participating in the Fellowship.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, more than a third of Fellows stated that they gained employment or got better employment because of their participation in the Fellowship, either through promotions, improved work performance, or greater recognition.
  • Prior to the Fellowship, less than 25% of 2017 Fellows had professional contacts in the US. After the program, over 95% of 2017 Fellows plan to engage with US professionals they networked with during their exchange.

Goals

The Mandela Washington Fellowship will:

  • Invest in a new generation of young African leaders who are shaping the continent’s future.
  • Respond to the strong demand by young African leaders for practical skills that can help them take their work to the next level in the fields of public service and business.
  • Deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa.
  • Build a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.
I have been introduced to new concepts of leadership such as strategic leadership, servant leadership, and shared leadership... I now have a clear sense of what leadership entails and how to apply it to my work and activities of volunteerism, especially when working with diverse groups of people in order to achieve a common goal. 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow

Project Activities

The Mandela Washington Fellowship includes:

  • Academic and Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow takes part in a six-week Academic and Leadership Institute at a US university or college in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management.
  • Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, DC: Following the academic residency of the Fellowship, Fellows visit Washington, DC for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. During this multi-day event, Fellows take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and US leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
  • Professional Development Experience: Up to 100 competitively-selected Fellows remain in the United States after the Summit to participate in individually tailored six-week professional development experiences. Fellows are placed in US non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies that relate to their professional interests and goals.
  • Reciprocal Exchange: Reciprocal Exchanges provide Americans with opportunities to travel to Africa, building upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed with Fellows during their time in the United States. Through these projects, Americans and young African leaders form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase mutual understanding between the United States and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Activities in Africa: Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows continue to build the skills they developed during their time in the United States through support from US embassies, USAID, and affiliated partners, including regional conferences, professional practicum experiences, and mentoring opportunities. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the new Reciprocal Exchange component.

Partners

US flag, US Department of State seal, and logos for USAID and USADF

People

Contact

General e-mail address: mwfellowship@irex.org
For Fellowship alumni only: MWFalumni@irex.org