A group of 15 young Namibian leaders have been chosen to participate in the annual Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is being held virtually.
Established in 2014, the fellowship is the flagship programme of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which empowers young Africans through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.
The programme which began mid-June 2021 and will finish at the end of July, will focus on business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership,
and/or public management.
Besides the coursework, the programme will provide workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities with leaders in their respective fields.
Normally, the fellows visit the United States of America and attend the programme at various top universities. However, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the US embassy’s media assistant, Jacques du Toit said this year’s programme is being conducted virtually.
According to Du Toit, 150 people applied for the programme of which only 15 made the cut.
“We have an outstanding group of people this year. We are very proud of our Mandela Washington Fellows,” he said.
Award-winning social entrepreneur, Festus Malakia is one of the lucky young leaders to take part in this year’s fellowship.
Malakia, who has more than nine years of experience in banking and finance, education, youth development, and business development, will be completing his six-week programme in ‘Leadership in Business’ with Northwest University.
On completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme, Malakia would like to set up a business incubation centre in Namibia that will transform unemployed youth into job creators, and also transform informal sector entrepreneurs into high-growth and highly-scalable entrepreneurs.
Ester Hango, the founder and part-time project coordinator of Slow-pace Biodiversity Campsite and Multi-services centre, a community centre that addresses the environmental and health issues that impact women, youth, and children in rural areas, is also one of the fellows and she will complete her programme in ‘Civic engagement’ with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“After completing the programme, I would like to use my new skills to develop my community centre into an institute of energy and environment, while helping children with vulnerabilities and special needs improve their education and nutrition,” said Hango.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the applications for the next intake were postponed indefinitely.
“With the safety and well-being of fellows and partners as the highest priority, the US Department of State postponed the 2020 Fellowship until summer 2021. The US Department of State will not open a general application for the 2022 Fellowship this year,” said Du Toit.