Application Deadline: June 30, 2024

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are seeking academic, professional, and regional experts to read and score applications for the 2025 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Over the first nine years of the Fellowship, the program received nearly 434,000 applications from 49 sub-Saharan African countries for 7,200 Fellow slots. Your talents and expertise in helping score our high volume of applications are greatly appreciated!

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 coursework and leadership training to create unique opportunities for Fellows and U.S. citizens to collaborate, spur economic growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States. In summer 2025, the Fellowship will bring up to 700 young leaders to the United States for a comprehensive executive-stye program designed to build skills and empower Fellows to lead in their respective sectors and communities.

  • The enterprise the candidate leads has been in operation for a minimum of two years.
  • The enterprise employs a minimum of two full-time, paid employees.
  • The candidate’s role if that of a primary decision-maker, i.e. the role you hold is:
    • C-Suite (CEO, COO,CTO,CFO etc.)
    • Co-Founder/ Founder & C-Suite
    • Executive Director
  • Candidate is committed full-time to running the enterprise.
  • The enterprise the candidate is leading is mission driven, meaning that the sole objective is not to make a profit, but also to have a positive impact on society.

Additional Considerations

  • The enterprise the candidate is leading can be a for profit, non-profit or hybrid.
  • The enterprise’s scope of work can be international, domestic or both.
  • The enterprise has developed an effective business model and is therefore well positioned (or is able to provide evidence that demonstrates a high level of potential) to scale in the long-term.
  • The enterprise is addressing issues in the following sectors: Financial Inclusion, Environment, Education, Economic Mobility and Health. However, we will consider applicants who fall outside of these areas as related to their potential for social impact and systemic change.
  • Candidates should not be receiving formal coaching/mentoring support; if they are applying for other fellowships within the same fellowship cycle, make sure it is indicated within your application.
Application Process
  • Phase I: Preliminary Questionnaire: May – June
    • A series of short-answer questions that aims to assess the applicants alignment with our Fellowship criteria
    • Time it takes to complete: 30 minute approximately
  • Phase II: Comprehensive Application: July – August
    • A mandatory video submission where we ask you to share your story with us
    • 2 recommendation letters
    • Financial viability template
    • Short answer questions related to these topics:
      • Impact measurement
      • What your enterprise does and what makes it unique
      • Leadership potential and coachability
    • The time it takes to complete: 1-2 hours approximately
  • Phase III: Interview: October – November
    • A 30-minute video interview
    • Candidates are required to invite 1 colleague and/or community member that can attest to their work to their interview

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