How To Be Chosen For The Mandela Washington Fellowship



The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a top fellowship that aims at bringing up to 700 young Africans to the United States yearly for an executive-style leadership training program that improves the skills and leadership qualities of young Africans between the age of 25 – 35 years.

Leadership experts are drafted from all corners of the world to empower going Africans with leadership skills.

The Mandela Fellowship program is unarguably the most popular fellowship program across Africa.


The program gathers over 700 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa and drafts them across various colleges and universities in the United States to improve their leadership skills.

The Mandela Washington fellowship program started in 2014 and have since established a track record of promoting innovative and positive change in the life, and environment of the various participants.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young aspiring African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative popularly known as (YALI).

YALI was formed in 2010 and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020, It has trained over 4,400 Africans in various leadership courses.

IREX Mandela Washington Fellowship

IREX is a global education and developmental institution that has the mandate of developing young scholars into great leaders of society.
IREX in partnership with the US state department is saddled with the responsibility of organizing the Mandela Washington Fellowship.


IREX over the years has formed a partnership with over 100 countries worldwide and has constantly delivered on its mandate of raising leaders.

Who Is Eligible To Apply For The Mandela Washington Fellowship

It is very important to note that eligibility for the scholarship is open to all young Africans that have met the criteria, devoid of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, color or social economic status.

Once you possess the criteria listed below, you are thereby qualified to apply for the Mandela Washington fellowship.

Criteria for application.

  1. Applicants must be between the age brackets of 25-35 years on or before the deadline of application.
  2. Notwithstanding, exceptional candidates who fall under the ages of 21-24 years can still apply, tho they must show candidates of high recommendation.
  3. All applicants must be conversant and proficient in reading and understanding the English language.
    Applicants who are deaf can also visit the official fellowship website to read the English language instruction.
  4. Applicants should not be American citizens or have permanent residency in the U.S.
  5. Applicants must meet the criteria for a US J-1 visa and must be able to receive the visa.
  6. Applicants should not be an employee of the United States.
  7. Applicants should not be direct relatives of employees under the United States government payroll including embassies, consulates, USAID, and other US governmental agencies.
  8. Applicants should not be alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
  9. Applicants must be citizens of one of the following countries with a valid means of identification ;

Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Chad, Cape Verd, Central African Republic, Comoros, DRC, Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leon, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, South Africa, South Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Applicants should note that during the period of study, there would be no companionship, and no spouse or relations would be permitted to accompany them to the fellowships.

The US department of state and IREX would verify all information provided by the applicants in their registration process and any information found to be false would automatically lead to disqualification.

How Candidates Are Selected For The Mandela Washington Fellowship.

The selection of the Mandela Washington fellowship applicants is based on merit, the whole process is a transparent one and only applicants who match all the criteria are selected.

The selection panel picks the qualified applicants and interviews them in the US embassy or the US consulate with a valid means of identification either a National identity card or an international passport.


Criteria for the application by which candidates would be accessed.

  1. Applicants should be able to work with diverse groups devoid of religious sentiment or gender diversity.
  2. Strong communication and social skills.
  3. A proven record of excellence in leadership, business, or public service.
  4. A commitment to return to your homeland to apply what you have been taught.
  5. A strong commitment to community service and mentorship.

How To Apply

Ready to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship? Visit the official MWF application page  for submission deadlines, application instructions, and more.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a top program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative popularly known as (YALI).

YALI was formed in 2010 and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020.

Tips To Make Your Mandela Washington Fellowship Application Stand Out Amongst Many Applications.

  1. Always tell your story: always be real with your story, and don’t lie or exaggerate.
    Be real and let your drive come through.
  2. Have a central theme.
    When writing your essay, never make the mistake of drifting around, always have a central theme and focus your essay on the theme.
  3. Avoid plagiarism: your essay should be original and avoid copying other people’s works, and if you must quote others always acknowledge them.
    Plagiarism is a grave offense and if caught you would be disqualified.
  4. Read Instructions: most MWF applicants do not read the instructions, maybe due to
    the bulky nature of the write-ups, but following instructions is a pivotal step that would definitely give you an edge in your application.

5. Write Simply: Always write short and clear sentences, avoid huge grammars and technicalities that would confuse your reviewer, remember you have a limited number of words, and use it wisely to convey your message.

  1. Use Real-World Examples

The essays are designed to help the reviewer understand your experiences with life, so always endeavor to use real-life experiences that convey your skills and interest.

7. Don’t Walk Alone
If you are opportune to know any alumni, always reach out to the person to help review your application before the submission deadline.


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