Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 2023

Written by Michael Nz. on December 28, 2022

5 min read

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Scholarship details

  • Area of study

  • Country of the Scholarship

    South Africa
  • Scholarship Valid Until (Year)

  • Type of scholarship

    Vocational scholarships
  • Scholarship amount given

    $7000 - $9000
  • Type of scholarship administrator

  • Mode of scholarship (Online/Offline)

  • Applier's country

  • Expenses covered

  • Scholarship Contact Details

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The scholarship brings young leaders to the United States for academic courses and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for fellows and Americans to collaborate as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security in Africa and the United States.

The Mandela Washington Young African Leadership Scholarship, launched in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which supports young people through classroom teaching, leadership training, and creating networks.

In 2023, the scholarship will provide 700 outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to enhance their skills at an African and American college or university and to support post-return professional development.

Fellows between the ages of 25 and 35 have achieved proven success in promoting innovation and its positive impact on their organizations, institutions, communities and countries. In 2017, members represented a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty-one members said they had a disability and 50% of them were women.

Community Structure

US-Based Activities:

  • Leadership Institutes: Each Mandela Washington Fellow attends a six-week Leadership Institute at a US university in one of three areas: Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management. The intensive model includes links between academic sessions, site visits,
  • networking opportunities, leadership training, community service, and organized cultural activities.
  • Mandela Washington Scholarship Summit: Following the Fellowship Scholarship, fellows travel to Washington, DC, for a summit meeting that includes a networking meeting and roundtable discussions with leaders from the US public, private, and for-profit sectors.
  • Professional Development Experience: Selected 70 fellows are still in the United States to attend four-week professional development experiences with non-governmental organizations, private companies, and United States government agencies that affect their interests and goals. The BDP is intended to provide fellows with hands-on training and the
    • opportunity to gain transferable skills, expand their professional networks, and apply concepts learned at their Institutes to real-world situations in the American context.

    Africa-Based Activities:

    • Upon their return to their home country, fellows will continue to learn the skills they have acquired during their time in the United States through the support of US embassies, the four regional leadership centers, the YALI Network, and USAID’s customized programs. United States Department of State and affiliate partners.
    • Through this experience, selected Mandela Washington Fellows to have access to professional development, mentoring, networking, and training opportunities, as well as support for their ideas, businesses, and organizations.
    • Fellows may also invite their US partners to travel to Africa to continue their project-based collaboration through the mutual exchange component.

Level of study:

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is designed for Emerging Young Leaders to empower young people through academic courses, leadership training, and networking.

Host Nationality:

Mandela Washington Fellowship 2023 is hosted in South Africa, and the United States.

Eligible Nationality:

The recipient of the Young African Leaders Scholarship must be a citizen of an African country and must be willing to return to Africa to apply what they have learned

Scholarship Benefits:

There is no application fee at the Mandela Washington Fellowship. If you are selected for the scholarship, the United States government will pay all registration fees. The financial arrangements of the United States government include:

  • J-1 visa support;
  • Return home from the Fellow’s hometown in the United States and domestic trips to the United States, depending on the program;
  • A six-week academic and management institute;
  • The final summit in Washington, DC;
  • Accident and health insurance plan;
  • Lodging and meals during the program; Y
  • Optional six-week professional development experience (for up to 100 members).

Note: The scholarship does not cover the salary of members who are not working or paying for personal purchases as gifts.

Apply now as one of 700 young African leaders to participate in this fully funded program.

Scholarship Number

The Young African Leaders Association has a total of 700 bids.

Scholarship Eligibility

Candidates are not discriminated against based on race, color, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Mandela Washington Scholarship is open to young African leaders who meet the following criteria:

  • At the time of application, between the ages of 25 and 35, however, exceptional applicants between the ages of 21 and 24 will be considered.
  • They are not citizens of the United States or permanent residents of the United States.
  • They are eligible to receive a J-1 visa from the United States.
  • Are not employees of, or immediate family of, employees of the US government (including a US embassy or consulate, USAID, and other US government entities).
  • They are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English. Deaf applicants should refer to the Application Instructions for more information.
  • Are citizens and residents of one of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Selection criteria

Selection panels will use the following criteria to evaluate applications (not in order of importance):

  • A proven record of leadership and achievement in public service, business, or civic engagement.
  • A demonstrated commitment to public or community service, volunteering or mentoring.
  • The ability to work cooperatively in diverse groups and respect the opinions of others.
  • Strong social and communication skills.
  • An energetic and positive attitude.
  • Demonstrated knowledge, interest, and professional experience in the preferred sector/track.
  • A commitment to return to Africa and apply leadership skills and training to benefit the applicant’s country or community upon return home.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is conducted as an open, merit-based competition. After the deadline, all eligible applications will be reviewed by a selection panel. Selected semifinalists will be interviewed by the US embassies or consulates in their home countries.

If selected for an interview, applicants must provide a copy of their passport (if available) or other government-issued photo identification to verify eligibility.

Application procedure: 

Read the Application Instructions and see the Frequently Asked Questions.

To apply, complete the online application.

For more information visit Mandela Washington Scholarship.

The application for the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2023 will be executed as follows;

  • September every year, | The application opens
  • October every year  | the app closes
  • 2023 December to February 2023 | Semifinalists interviewed by local US embassies and consulates.
  • End of March 2023  | Applicants are notified of their status
  • May 2023  | Visa processing and pre-departure orientations for finalists.
  • Mid-June 2023  | The scholarship begins in the United States


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). 

The fellowship brings young leaders to the United States for academic courses and leadership training and creates unique opportunities for fellows and Americans to cooperate as they drive growth and prosperity, foster democratic governance, and enhance peace and security in Africa. and the United States.

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