How to Apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2023 (MWF)

Ogunbowale Olugbenga
3 min readSep 9, 2021
Yours truly at Kellogg School of Management

At my 4th attempt, and 2nd interview, I was selected as 1 of 55 outstanding young leaders out of 11,000 applicants from Nigeria and as part of 700 Africans out of 55,000 applicants from Africa.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was created in 2010 and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020. Established in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought nearly 4,400 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for academic and leadership training. The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship truly changed my life. You can read all about my experience as a 2019 fellow in America here.

You can find out more about me here.

I’m paying it forward by compiling the ultimate guide to help you nail your essays at one sitting. Initially, I wanted to write a guide but I figured a lot of fellows already did justice to it, so why not share the best of the best guides in one place?

Here is a compilation of the best guides I have come across:

  1. Zoom X Facebook Live session on answering the essay questions with Olugbenga Ogunbowale, Seno Namwandi, Juliet Odhiambo, Kehinde Oladeji

3. Video Application guide: YALI Network, Rivers State Hub, Nigeria:

Featuring: 1. Barrister Timi Olagunju, Nigeria 2. Esther Onyinyechi Mark, Nigeria 3. Sini Yakubu Wule, Nigeria 4. Aruna Kallon, Sierra Leone 5. Ndifreke Andrew-Essien, Nigeria 6. Kingdom Nwanyanwu, Nigeria 7. Ebenezar Wikina, Nigeria 8. Roselyne Sachiti, Zimbabwe 9. Akachukwu Okafor, Nigeria 10. Dr. Ucheoma Udoha, Nigeria

4. Ten Ways to Make Your Mandela Washington Fellowship Application Stand Out by Augustine Okorodudu

5. Special #YALIChat with alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders! Olugbenga, Juliet, Ibrahima, and Seno Namwandi answered questions from prospective MWF applicants

6. YALI Network: Applying for the Mandela Washington Fellowship: Writing a Personal Statement

8. Frequently Asked Questions: 2022 Fellowship Application by MWF


See you at the interview stage!

(PS: if you found this post useful, pls share with your friends!)