Young African Leaders Initiative posing for a photoMandela Washington Fellows posing for a photo

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was launched in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa. Beginning the summer of 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought young African leaders to the United States for academic coursework and leadership training. The program creates unique opportunities in Africa for fellows to use their new skills in leading organizations, communities and countries. 

As part of the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), a group of collaborators at the University of Notre Dame has received a grant from the U.S. Department of State to train young African leaders in business and entrepreneurship. The collaborators include the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, the University’s Engineering, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters (ESTEEM) program, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies’ Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity.

YALI students from Notre Dame join with YALI students from Northwestern for a combined visit to IBM in ChicagoMandela Washington Fellows from Notre Dame join with Fellows from Northwestern University for a combined visit to IBM's Innovation Center in Chicago

The $100,000 grant was awarded through the State Department’s implementing partner, IREX. Additional funding and technical support for the training program has been provided by the IBM Corporation and The Coca-Cola Foundation.

The grant positions Notre Dame to serve as a host institution for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program. The University is partnering with IBM experts to provide 25 fellows from Africa with six weeks of training in the area of business and entrepreneurship. Courses are designed by IBM instructors and Notre Dame faculty and staff for the aspiring entrepreneurs who hope to assume leadership roles or start their own business ventures in Africa.

The Mandela Washington Fellows’ U.S.-based training is only the beginning of a long-term investment in these young leaders. In Africa, YALI provides ongoing opportunities for networking, professional development, seed funding for entrepreneurs and community service. Fellows have access to enrichment seminars, local and regional networking events and an online platform for future collaborations.