Apply Now! 2020 Reciprocal Exchange Applications Now Open

The U.S. Department of State and IREX are pleased to announce that applications for the Reciprocal Exchange component are being accepted through February 18, 2020.

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Bringing Africa to the world through e-commerce

Since his Fellowship five years ago, Vital Sounouvou’s company Exportunity has grown from an idea to a thriving e-commerce marketplace and fintech company focused on helping Africa trade with the world.

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What’s next for the 2020 Fellowship Application process?

The application period for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship is closed. Check out the selection criteria and timeline.

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About us

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 and creates unique opportunities for Fellows and Americans to collaborate as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa and the United States.

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The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX.

Program Impact

  • 49

    Fellows have come from all 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    Sub-Saharan African Countries
  • 4,400

    Since 2014, nearly 4,400 Fellowship Alumni have completed the program.
    Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Network
  • 2,300

    Since 2014, the program has engaged more than 2,300 institutions from the private, nonprofit, governmental, and multilateral sectors across the United States during Institutes, PDEs, Reciprocal Exchanges, and the Summit.
    Companies and Organziations Engaged
  • 39,000

    Since 2016, Fellows have dedicated more than 39,000 hours of service to support U.S. communities during their Leadership Institutes.
    Hours of Support Dedicated to U.S. Communities


Teaching Ghana Rural and Slum Girls How to Code

In schools across Ghana, young girls struggle to enter the male-dominated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. 2014 Fellow Regina Agyare is working to change that. Read more about...

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Apply Now for the 2020 Reciprocal Exchange Component

January 21, 2020


Fellow Alumni pitch businesses and build networks at Africa Investor Week

December 10, 2019

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Learn more about how to be a part of the next generation of African Leaders!

“I believe that the Mandela Washington Fellowship has made me a stronger and better leader and has challenged me to think outside the box… There can only be more, bigger, and better to come from me, my fellow Fellows, and the continent of Africa as a whole.”
– 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow

The application period for the 2020 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders has closed. Check out the 2020 Fellowship Application timeline and process, eligibility information, and more by clicking here. We can't wait to meet the next Mandela Washington Fellows!

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  • October 9, 2019

    Application closed

  • Oct - Nov 2019

    Application review

  • Dec 2019 - Feb 2020

    Semifinalists interviewed by local U.S. embassies and consulates

  • Late March 2020

    Applicants are notified of their status

  • May 2020

    Finalist visa processing and Pre-Departure Orientations

  • Mid-June 2020

    Fellowship begins in the United States