Reciprocal Exchanges

In 2021, Marissa Donohue traveled to Cameroon to collaborate with 2019 Fellowship Alumnus Ismael Ebone in equipping local citizens with sustainable recycling tools, practices, and experience.

Established in 2015, the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship provides U.S. professionals with the opportunity to engage in collaborative projects with Fellowship Alumni in Sub-Saharan Africa, building upon strategic partnerships and professional connections developed during the Fellowship. The Reciprocal Exchange encourages U.S. experts and leaders to collaborate with African Fellows on critical issues, such as promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity while contributing to U.S. public diplomacy efforts and strengthening mutual understanding between the United States and Africa.

Current Open Applications

Reciprocal Exchange Participants (2015-2022)

Maps of the US and Africa with a plane traveling between them; text below says "269 US citizens have participated, representing 37 states and the District of Columbia partnering with over 250 Fellowship Alumni across 43 African countries

Having the chance to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange [component] was a life-changing experience for me.  This project challenged me to be innovative and take initiative in developing new skills that can have a positive impact on a global community.”   

Tanikka Mitchell, 2017 Reciprocal Exchange Participant, after collaborating with Nkechi Udegboka, 2016 Fellowship Alumna, in Nigeria
Kelly Bedeian of Iowa collaborated with 2019 Alumnus Jean Pierre Sibomana on a project with people with disabilities.

Reciprocal Exchanges enable U.S. businesspeople, industry experts, and organizations to collaborate with Fellowship Alumni across the continent on projects of mutual benefit to U.S. and African communities.

U.S. professionals may include those met during the Mandela Washington Fellowship through site visits, networking, the Summit, Professional Development Experiences, or other activities.  Through these projects, U.S. citizens and young African leaders form lasting partnerships, expand markets and networks, and increase collaboration between the United States and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Project Facts

Project Facts: Since 2015, more than 190 US-based companies and organizations have accessed new markets and opportunities through the Reciprocal Exchange Component; 32% of US participants represent rural communities in the US; Nearly half of US participants traveled to their host country for the first time on their Reciprocal exchange; to-date, 255 projects have reached over 34,000 African and 1,400 US attendees, participants, and beneficiaries.

The [Reciprocal Exchange component of] the Mandela Washington Fellowship has changed my life in so many ways.  I am now advancing my career in the U.S. in the disability sector and pursuing a Masters in Disability Studies.  None of this would have happened without the [Fellowship] and the Reciprocal Exchange component.”

Tom DeFayette, 2019 Reciprocal Exchange Participant, after collaborating with Moffat Louis, 2014 Fellowship Alumnus, in Botswana

Top Project Sectors

Top project sectors with illustrative icons: social justice, education, public health, agriculture/rural development

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