Introducing the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

An unparalleled opportunity to...

  • Interact with President Obama at a Presidential Summit in Washington, D.C.;
  • Participate in a 6-week intensive academic and leadership program at a U.S. institution;
  • Meet with U.S. government, civic, and business leaders;
  • Access exceptional internship and apprenticeship opportunities;
  • Expand your business or project through access to millions of dollars for small grant funding; and
  • Join a continent-wide and global alumni network to help you seek innovative solutions to common challenges.

What is the Washington Fellowship?

The Washington Fellowship is the new flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  This program will bring over 500 young leaders to the United States each year, beginning in 2014, for leadership training, academic coursework, and mentoring, and will create unique opportunities in Africa to put those new skills to practical use in propelling economic growth and prosperity and strengthening democratic institutions.

Welcoming Promising Leaders to the United States

President Obama speaks to a groupLeaders will attend U.S. universities for an academic institute in one of three areas: business and entrepreneurship; civic leadership; and public management.  Coursework and training in each of these sectors will focus on the skills young African leaders need to run better ministries, start and grow businesses, and serve their communities. The initiative will grow to 1,000 young leaders each year. Washington Fellows will spend six weeks at top American universities and colleges that will provide tailored programs in the sectors above, leveraging top faculty, cutting-edge curricula, and local opportunities to impart practical professional and leadership skills.

Formal university institutes will be augmented by workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities with leaders in each field, as well as internships across the United States. For example, U.S. agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank have offered to host Washington Fellows as interns to expose them to the U.S. workplace and practices, and build their technical skills. The Fellows will also have the chance to interact with the President during an annual Summit in Washington, D.C., along with other senior U.S. government, business, and civic leaders.

Investing in Opportunities on the Continent

Washington Fellows’ U.S.-based training will only be the beginning of the United States’ long term investment in these young leaders. The investment in young leaders will continue in Africa with opportunities for networking, ongoing professional development, seed funding for entrepreneurs and community service. Fellows will have access to enrichment seminars, local and regional networking events and an innovative on-line platform.  Participants may apply for Washington Fellowship internships with businesses, public sector entities and non-governmental organizations in order to put their newly-acquired skills and experiences to use. For example, Microsoft will connect Washington Fellows with internships and mentors in their offices across Africa and Ethiopian Airlines will offer participants the opportunity to train at their offices around the continent.

Washington Fellows will have access to dedicated funding opportunities to support their ideas, businesses, and organizations. Over $5 million in small grants will be awarded in the first three years by the U.S. African Development Foundation to Washington Fellows seeking to start their own businesses or social enterprises. The U.S. State Department will invest an additional $5 million over the course of the program to help alumni establish or grow non-governmental organizations, undertake a project to improve their community, or work collaboratively to build the network of young African leaders, including reaching into underserved areas. USAID Regional Coordinators will connect Washington Fellows to these opportunities and leverage over $200 million in ongoing youth programs and initiatives on the continent.


2014 Academic Institute Hosts

Business and Entrepreneurship

Civic Leadership

Public Management


Investing in Critical Sectors

  • Business and Entrepreneurship: designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who hope to take on leadership roles within the private sector or start their own business ventures on the continent.
  • Civic Leadership: oriented to young Africans who are civically engaged and serve the public through non-governmental organizations, and/or volunteer or community-based organizations.
  • Public Management: tailored to young Africans who work or aspire to work in all levels of government, regional organizations such as the African Union, international bodies such as the United Nations, or other publicly-minded entities or think tanks.

President Obama quote: Africa's future belongs to its young people...we need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world.Sustaining a Strong Alumni Network

Washington Fellows will be a part of a vibrant network that will continue to connect them to new opportunities in Africa and to each other.  Regular local and regional events and networking opportunities will sustain strong ties over the years as program participants assume leadership positions in their respective sectors.  Fellows will be required to mentor other promising young leaders, enhancing the impact and sustainability of the initiative, and growing the network to encompass other leaders, especially in disadvantaged communities.