Young African Leaders Initiative

Congratulations and welcome to all 25 of our Mandela Washington Fellows! Since 2014, we have had the honor of hosting the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the innovation capital of the United States. In collaboration with the McCombs School of Business, we have prepared a dynamic Business and Entrepreneurship Institute at one of the world’s leading universities - The University of Texas at Austin.

The goals of the Business & Entrepreneurship Institute at The University of Texas at Austin are to:

  • Deepen your knowledge of the entrepreneurship sector with rigorous coursework from renowned faculty
  • Develop your ability to represent your business through practical assignments focused on public speaking, writing business plans, and designing your brand 
  • Improve your servant leadership skills through workshops focused on personal growth as well as community service activities at local NGOs
  • Connect you with successful entrepreneurs in the Austin area through site visits, networking nights, and our community collaborators program
  • Enrich your U.S. cultural experience through visits to nearby cultural attractions as well as an overnight homestay with a local Austin host

In partnership with The McCombs School of Business, we have planned a dynamic, customized program that provides rigorous academic and cultural exchange.The McCombs School of Business is ranked #9 in the country for its Entrepreneurship program (U.S. News and World Report, 2018) and #17 in the nation for its MBA program (U.S. News and World Report, 2018). As fellows, you will learn from award-winning professors and network with successful entrepreneurs.

We will keep you busy during this program! A typical day includes 2-3 hours of class time as well as supplementary networking, community service, site visits and/or entertainment activities throughout the afternoon and evening. You will have homework throughout the institute, so expect to spend time each evening studying and preparing course assignments.

You are required to attend all planned activities as part of your agreement for participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program.

Prof. John Doggett will lead class discussions focused on Harvard Business Review Case Studies chosen to meet your specific interests. Case studies will be complemented by three books focused on entrepreneurship, and weekly assignments designed to enhance your practical ability to represent your businesses through writing, public speaking and visual design.

Key themes of the academic content include:

  • How to use the Customer Discovery Method to continually refine your business model
  • The importance of innovation in every aspect of your business
  • How to grow your company in a capital constrained environment
  • Why a top-down management approach is a recipe for stagnant growth
  • How to empower your employees to treat your customers like valued members of their family
  • How to pitch your business to customers, partners, employees and investors

Site Visits

Site visits are one type of experiential learning that are excellent for bringing classroom sessions to life. You will make visits to corporations, non-profit organizations, and foundations such as:

Leadership Sessions

Leadership training sessions are designed to provide you with additional leadership skills to enhance you leadership capacity in your home countries. Prof. Charlee Garden of the Department of Management at the McCombs School of Business will conduct leadership training sessions on topics including:

  • Micro Leadership: Lead Yourself First
  • Building Bridges: Global Learning
  • Macro Leadership: Create a Culture
  • Sustainable Leadership: Building Emotional Resilience
  • Exploration of the Fish! Philosophy and the True Colors Model (taught by the Leadership and Ethics Institute)

The institute includes a variety of networking forums for you to connect with the Austin business community.

Community Collaborator Site Visits: As part of our community collaborator and mentorship program, you will be placed in small groups according to sector and matched with local organizations working in your field. You will visit your assigned hub organization multiple times during the institute. The staff at these hub organizations will provide you with a jumping off point to network with the Austin community and plug in to even more networking prospects.

Networking Nights: Hosted at partner organizations around the city, networking nights will bring together professionals from a variety of backgrounds who are interested in internationalizing their networking by getting connected with Mandela Washington Fellows.

Independent Networking Time: You will have one free afternoon each week to independently schedule meetings that benefit their business endeavors. We encourage you to begin setting up meetings as soon as you receive the program calendar.

The daily dress code for our program is Business Casual. Business Casual attire includes: khaki pants, slacks, skirts, capris or dresses along with button-down shirts, polo shirts, and/or blouses. Traditional clothing is also welcome. Additionally, there are some events -- such as the closing summit and the pitch competition -- where more formal business dress is appropriate.

The summers in Austin are very hot and humid. However, our indoor areas are well air-conditioned. We recommend bringing a mixture of light, warm weather clothing along with some sweaters and jackets to keep you comfortable. You will be walking at least several kilometers a day, so please bring comfortable walking shoes. For more packing tips, visit our Preparing for UT page

You will be involved in weekly community service activities to understand the role of volunteerism and giving in U.S. society. Local leaders will share information about the community needs their organizations address and how they succeed. Examples of the Community Service organizations may include:

Exposure to the diversity of U.S. culture and society is an important facet of this fellowship experience. You will engage with the local culture through a number of planned activities such as:

June 20 - July 29 – Institute at UT

July 30 - August 1 – Summit in Washington, D.C.

As a part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, you will receive Accident and Sickness insurance coverage. The plan provides health insurance coverage for the duration of the program. Find information about medical emergencies, health care providers and pharmacies on the Health and Safety page.

During the program, you will live in a 2 bedroom apartment at The Block on Leon, within walking distance of the UT campus. Each bedroom will be shared between two fellows of the same gender. Roommate assignments will be distributed at check-in.  The Block on Leon is located in the heart of the UT Student Residential area and is surrounded by easily accessible restaurants, shops and entertainment.

Each apartment is pre-furnished, including a fully functional kitchen where you can make home-cooked meals.

Apartment Features

  • Fully Furnished
  • Kitchenware
  • Dishwasher
  • Private Bathroom (per bedroom)
  • Air-conditioning/Heat
  • Ceiling fans
  • Closets
  • Clothes washer/dryer
  • Cable TV
  • High-speed Internet

Building Features

  • Air-conditioned hallways
  • Rooftop sunbathing deck
  • Study Lounges
  • Fitness Center (Gym)
  • Controlled access to buildings Elevators

Your designated program coordinators are:

Alison Boland, Program Coordinator

Krystle Haney, Program Coordinator

Annette Whatley, Program Coordinator

You can read more about them here.

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Health and Safety
Life in Austin
Preparing for UT