Mandela Washington Fellows’ U.S.-based training is only the beginning of the United States’ long-term investment in these young leaders. The U.S. Government is working with businesses, governments, and NGOs to create ongoing professional opportunities and resources to support these young leaders when they return home.
Professional Development: The U.S. Government is securing over 200 internships and professional placements for Mandela Washington Fellows in private companies, government ministries, research institutes, multilateral organizations, and non-profit or community-based organizations on the continent. Fellows will be placed in internships in private sector companies such as Microsoft and global NGOs, such as Partners for Democratic Change.
Mentoring: Fellows will be matched with mentors – industry leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including from major international companies and U.S. organizations with operations in Africa – who will guide and support Fellows as they seek to apply the lessons and skills gained through their fellowship experience, plan short and long-term career goals, and grow professionally after their return to Africa.
Seed Funding: Mandela Washington Fellows will have access to dedicated funding to support their ideas, businesses, and organizations and undertake joint projects to improve their communities. More than $5 million in small grants will be awarded in the first three years by the U.S. African Development Foundation for Mandela Washington Fellows seeking to start or enhance their businesses or social enterprises. In addition, Washington Fellows will be able to attract funding for their ventures and projects through RocketHub’s dedicated YALI crowdfunding platform.
Contributing to the Community: The State Department will invest an additional $5 million over the next three years to help Fellows establish or grow their own NGOs, undertake projects to improve their communities, or work collaboratively to build the network of young African leaders, including in underserved areas. Fellows will serve as mentors to other young Africans in eight Connect Camps, where they will use technology to promote social good and community engagement.
Leveraging Ongoing U.S. Government Investments: USAID will leverage more than $350 million in existing youth programs and development initiatives to give the Fellows access to a broad array of assistance and support. For instance, under the Feed the Future Initiative, Fellows in selected countries will benefit from training programs and tailored internships.
Sustaining a Strong Network
U.S. embassies will provide resources and support to ensure that Mandela Washington Fellows stay connected through in-country alumni associations and community service activities. Fellows will have access to virtual exchange toolkits (customized for a wide range of bandwidth environments) in order to maintain strong connections back to the United States and extend their experience to other young Africans. Finally, the U.S. Government will organize regular local and regional events and networking opportunities to sustain deep ties with these dynamic Fellows over the years to come.
So, you didn’t make it to Washington to meet President Barak Obama for the YALI conference, but there are still many opportunities to get involved in the YALI Network.
The YALI Network provides virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces to equip young African leaders with the skills and connections they need to foster change in their communities and their countries. Established by the President in April 2014, the Network already includes more than 68,000 members. Using yali.state.gov and social media, the United States provides online courses and materials, and connects members with global leaders in their field. Over the next year, President Obama will continue to engage the YALI Network through virtual town halls. In addition to virtual connections, conversations, and classes, the YALI Network will also provide:
Creation of state-of-the-art YALI Spaces. Over the next year, American Corners in Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and South Africa will be outfitted to provide YALI Network members opportunities to meet, learn, and incubate their ideas; spaces in seven additional countries will be renovated over the next two years. YALI staff will facilitate online courses and provide advising sessions on everything from business start-ups to opportunities for study abroad. Meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, and business tools will allow YALI Network members to work together to create social ventures, community service projects, and new business start-ups. These facilities will be equipped with the fastest available internet connections, tablets, creative software, 3-D printers, smart boards, video conferencing equipment, and high-tech learning tools.
Virtual training, tools, and technology for the YALI Network. YALI Network members will have access to an array of online courses and training materials, along with virtual mentoring and networking opportunities.
Over 20 Curated MOOCs and 60 facilitated MOOC Camps: YALI Network members are able to access more than 20 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and will be offered 60 facilitated courses in MOOC Camps in YALI Spaces across the continent over the coming year.
The YALI Network platform will also provide access to tailor-made training videos on leadership, business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management featuring U.S. university professors and experts in their field. The training videos provide tips on everything from creating a business model to developing public-private partnerships, with supplementary guides with discussion questions and developmental actions.
Meetups – the ability to connect at home and in person: The YALI Network website will provide members with a “Meetup” option, which enables members to connect, network and even collaborate on new initiatives.
Building on a tradition of engagement. All of our embassies in Africa have significant, sustained engagements with young leaders. 43 embassies have youth councils that provide input into U.S. policies and programs in the country and contribute to the design and execution of youth programs. Since 2010, the State Department has held fifteen exchanges specifically for young African leaders and brought more than 1,600 sub-Saharan young leaders to the United States, through its educational and cultural affairs programs, including Fulbright. In just the past year, embassies have organized over 800 events across the continent aimed at developing the next generation of Africa’s civic, government, and business leaders.
Supporting Young Entrepreneurs
Supporting entrepreneurship is one of the most important aspects of YALI. By providing training on the latest trends in business, access to seed funding, and state of the art spaces in which to incubate new start-ups, youth-led businesses can get off the ground. The next stage is connecting budding entrepreneurs to investors, advisors, and distribution networks. This will come in 2014, at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Morocco and again in 2015, when for the first time, GES will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. YALI Network members will have the opportunity to present and participate in both summits.
In addition, the State Department and the U.S. Africa Development Foundation (USADF) will support selected YALI entrepreneurs to attend and participate in the DEMO Africa 2014 conference, to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on September 25 – 26. Over the next year, the State Department will lead three partnership opportunity delegations of entrepreneurs and investors to Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
The United States will continue to provide young Africans access to resources they can use to put their skills to work in service of their communities.
Entrepreneurship Grants: USADF is offering $2.5 million in seed funding to members of the YALI Network over the next three years in the form of 250 small entrepreneurship grants. These grants will support start-ups and expansion of businesses and social ventures in six countries in 2015 – Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
Mobile Entrepreneurship Incubators: U.S. embassies in Africa will build entrepreneurial capacity beyond the capital cities by training and helping to incubate the businesses of at least 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs from the Network in provincial cities and rural areas during 2015. StartUp Weekend and other traveling experts will accompany a mobile incubator, equipped with the tools and technology to get a business off the ground. Conducted in collaboration with local governments, institutions, and NGOs, the workshops and equipment are designed to walk aspiring entrepreneurs through the basic precepts of starting a business, including writing a business plan, leveraging online resources, raising capital, and expanding market share.