Apply for the Catalyst Grant

IREX is excited to announce the launch of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Catalyst Grant, a unique funding opportunity for Fellowship Alumni! Through a new partnership with D-Prize, a non-profit organization that works to distribute and scale proven technologies to benefit people in extreme poverty, up to five Fellowship Alumni will be selected to receive grants of up to $20,000 USD each to fund initiatives to catalyze change and distribute proven poverty interventions wherever extreme poverty exists.

Who Should Apply? 

The Mandela Washington Fellowship Catalyst Grant is open to all Fellowship Alumni from all tracks, sectors, and levels of expertise who want to launch or scale a social enterprise in communities throughout Africa.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship Catalyst Grant is intended to support Fellowship Alumni to deliver a proven poverty intervention at scale. The grant is not intended to support prototyping a promising new solution.

Mandela Washington Fellowship Catalyst Grant Challenges*


  • Quality Inputs Challenge: Can you provide smallholder farmers with high-quality inputs and training proven to increase their harvests?


  • Solar Lamp Challenge: Can you sell solar lights to rural or slum-dwelling households in need?

Governance & Infrastructure

  • Transparency Challenge: Can you improve transparency and report data on the public service performance?
  • Road Safety Challenge: Do you have an idea for ways to reduce reckless driving and road accidents?

Health Access Challenges

  • Immunization Challenge: Can you direct 500 caregivers (parents or other guardians) to bring their infants to health facilities for routine immunizations that otherwise would not occur?
  • Patient Identification Challenge: Can you create a way to identify patients?


  • Poverty Graduation Challenge: Can you provide business coaching, capital, and social support to lift people out of ultra-poverty?


  • Round 1 Application Deadline: October 6, 2023
  • Round 1 Decision Notifications and Round 2 Application Invitations: Late November 2023
  • Round 2:  Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni applicants invited to Round 2 will be required to submit a plan a few weeks after the invitation. 
  • Final Round: Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni applicants’ invitation to the Final Round -Virtual interview by the selection committee.  
  • Winning ventures will be announced in March 2024

*D-Prize developed the challenges for the purposes of this competition. The preferences and views expressed in the documents do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.