Deadline: September 15, 2021



Are you set to be part of the next generation of young African leaders? Make applications now for the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2022 for young AfricansLeaders!

Deadline: September 15, 2021

The fellowship brings young leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training and creates distinctive opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate and as they encourage growth plus prosperity, strengthening democratic governance, and increasing peace plus security across Africa and the United States.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for the Young African Leaders was started in 2014, and its the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative – YALI that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The Mandela Washington Fellowship will conduct up to 700 young leaders to the United States in the summer of 2021 for a complete executive-style program that is designed to construct skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.


U.S based activities

Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow contributes in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S. college or university in one of the three topics: Business, Civic Engagement, and Public Management.

The concentrated model includes linkages between academic sessions, leadership training community service, site visits, professional networking opportunities, and organized cultural activities.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit: Following the academic constituent of the Fellowship visit Washington, D.C, for a Summit promoting networking and panel discussions with U.S leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Professional Development Experience: Seventy chosen Fellows remain in the United States to take part in a four-week Professional Development Experience with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and governmental agencies that respond to their professional interests and goals. The PDE is designed to give Fellows practical training and the chance to learn transferable skills, enlarge their professional networks and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the U.S. context.

Africa-based activities

Upon coming back to their home countries, Fellows go on to build the skills they have developed during their time in the United States through aid from U.S. embassies, YALI Network, USAID plus the Department of State, and affiliated partners. Through these experiences, choose Mandela Washington Fellows have admission to in progressing professional development and networking opportunities, as well as aid for their ideas, businesses, and organizations. Fellows may also apply for their American partners to travel to Africa to further project-based cooperation through the Reciprocal Exchange Component.


The Fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity to:

  • Be part in a six-week Leadership Institute at a U.S college or university to share your experiences with and learn from U.S. citizens and other Fellows.
  • Tour industries beyond your daily work and expand your expertise.
  • Attend a summit with young African leaders in Washington, D.C.
  • Meet with U.S. Government, civic, and business leaders.
  • Strengthen your work through new connections, skills, and ideas.


  • Applicants will not be differentiated against on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is always open to all young African leaders who meet the following criteria:
  • Are between the ages of 25 and 35 on or before the application deadline, although exceptional applicants ages 21-24 will be considered
  • Are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States
  • Are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa
  • Are citizens of one of the following countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Angola, Benin, Burundi, Botswana, Comoros, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, The Gambia, Eswatini, Ghana, Madagascar, Guinea, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Mauritius, Lesotho, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Senegal, Niger, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia or Uganda
  • Are residents of one of the above countries and
  • Are not Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
  • Are not employees or immediate family members of employees of the U.S. Government (including a U.S. embassy or consulate, USAID, or other U.S. Government entity)
  • Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English (additional guidance coming for applicants who are deaf)

Please note that Fellows are not allowed to have dependents, including spouses and children, accompany them, during the Fellowship. The U.S. Department of State and IREX reserve the right to verify all details including all information included in the application. In the event of a deviation, or if the information is found to be false, the application will there and then be announced invalid and the applicant ineligible.

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The following criteria will be used to examine applications (not in order of importance);

  • A demonstrative record of leadership and accomplishment in business, civic engagement, or public service
  • A proven commitment to public or community service, volunteerism, or mentorship
  • The ability to work collaboratively in diverse groups and to respect the opinions of others
  • Strong social and communication skills
  • An energetic, positive attitude
  • Proven knowledge of, interest in, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track, and
  • A commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit the applicant’s country and/or community after they return home.


Apply to be a part of the next generation of African Leaders   


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