The Mandela Washington Fellowship


Additional opportunities for Basotho include the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders under the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The YALI program which begun in 2014, is the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2016, the Fellowship has provided 1,000 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. higher education institution with support for professional development after they return home. The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. The program will bring 700 new Fellows to the United States in 2018, 12 of which will be from Lesotho. In 2017, Fellows represented all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with 15 Basotho participating.

Applications and Program Timelines

Applications for the 2018 Fellowship are now open; September 13 – October 11, 2017. Following the online application deadline, the recruitment processes will concluded with a round of face-to-face interviews in early 2018, before the finalists depart for the United States in June later in the year. Please note that due to the high volume of applications being processed every year, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted via phone for the face-to-face phase of the recruitment process.

Other YALI Opportunities

Another YALI professional development opportunity closer to home is the YALI Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa (RLC SA) hosted by the University of South Africa at the Graduate School of Business Leadership in Pretoria, South Africa. The RLC SA aims to create critical thinkers who can solve complex, multidisciplinary problems; foster entrepreneurial and innovative thinking; and encourage cross-border communication and multicultural collaboration. The RLC SA develops the skills of young African leaders by providing core training in contemporary African issues, as well as specialized training in three key areas: Business and Entrepreneurship; Civic Leadership and Public Management. So far 55 Basotho have participated in five different cohorts since early 2016.

The YALI Network

Young Basotho leaders can also join the YALI Network online community. It 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 December 2013, the Network already includes over 200,000 members. Through the YALI Network the United States provides online courses and materials, and connects members with global leaders in their fields to help members develop leadership skills.

The YALI Leadership Innovation Hub

Housed on the second floor of the State Library in Maseru, The American Corner together with the YALI Leadership Innovation Hub provide a space for Basotho to learn about the United States through innovative technology infrastructure that includes computers with free internet access, digital boards, cable television. The American Corner also provides education advising for Basotho students who would like to study in the United States through our EducationUSA program. To find out more about what is happening at the American Corner please follow us on Facebook at American Corner Maseru.