Washington DC YALI Group PhotoSkyline College served as an Institute Partner for the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. 25 Fellows in the Business and Entrepreneurship Track went through a rigorous 6-week program that took place from June 16, 2017- July 30, 2017. The Fellows studied Global Trade and Logistics while examining the role of technology and the product lifecycle from idea generation through product distribution.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities.  Fellows are from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa and have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations and communities.  The cohort of Fellows hosted by Skyline College was part of a larger group of 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows studying at institutions across the United States this summer.  These exceptional young leaders met at the end of their institutes in Washington, D.C., for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they took part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.  Following the Summit, 100 competitively-selected Fellows will spend six weeks in professional development experiences with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

Skyline College program introduced the Fellows to the differing industries that are available in the Silicon Valley. The YALI Fellows toured various facilities and discussed how and why businesses were started and why they are now successful. A major goal of the program is for Fellows to take ideas back to their countries in Africa. Kristin Lord, IREX President and CEO states, “The Mandela Washington Fellowship creates a network of leaders advancing peace, prosperity, and more effective governance. That benefits not only people on the African continent, but forges people-to-people and government-to-government relationships that benefit both the United States and Africa.” This Fellowship is truly a two-way exchange with tremendous benefits for the United States. A strong, prosperous, democratic Africa that is aligned with the U.S. will ensure our national strategic interests for decades to come.

The Young African Leaders Initiative invests in the next generation of leaders across the continent.  By providing training in leadership, management, and entrepreneurship that can help future leaders elevate their own communities and countries, the U.S. helps these communities help themselves while building long-term relationships that also benefit the United States.  It is critical to America’s safety and economic strength to engage with young leaders from around the world, who are poised to take over influential roles in government, civil society, and business. In a world where academic research and professional engagement increasingly occurs across borders, that’s not just a feel-good experience – it’s an essential 21st century business skill.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported in its implementation by IREX.  For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit yali.state.gov and join the conversation at #YALI2017.

Article by Emma Briones

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