The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the founding flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative. The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the United States’ signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. In 2023, 700 fellows selected from a pool of 50,000 applicants traveled to the United States of America to participate in the fellowship and Ghanaian born Hillary Adare was one of them.
Who is Hillary?
Hillary is a geomatic engineer, interested in leveraging technology to solve challenges. She is the founder and CEO of Wonfliki, an Agri-tech startup that aims to help farmers make the most of their land using geospatial tools and technologies to provide affordable farm services and data.
List 3 adjectives which best describes Hillary?
Ambitious, Courageous, Hardworking
How did you hear about the Mandela Washington Fellowship?
A friend of mine was a 2022 fellow and that was how I first learned about the fellowship opportunity.
Why did you decide to apply for the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellowship?
A friend had encouraged me to apply, and I decided to pursue the opportunity.
How did you find the application and selection process?
I found the application to be straightforward. I applied in September 2022, got called for an interview in January 2023, and found out I had been selected as a fellow in March 2024
Did you receive assistance with the visa application?
Yes, the sponsors assisted in ensuring fellows could secure the J-1 visa.
Had you been to the US prior to participating in the MWF?
I visited Massachusetts in 2017, where I attended and participated in the Harvard Model UN Conference as a delegate.
Which Leadership Institute track did you participate in and at what host institution?
I participated in the six-week Business program at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana.
How would you describe the six-week Leadership Institute in one word?
In what way was the Leadership Institute experience beneficial to the work you do for your company, Wonfliki?
The Leadership Development component of the program would be an invaluable asset to my team and team building, as well as understanding how we can leverage our strengths and build upon our weaknesses to attain a common goal. Another beneficial component to our work is the wealth of network we can count on.
How was your experience as a 2023 Mandela Washington Fellow?
I had a wonderful experience! Being in the presence of like – minded Africans who are highly committed, passionate and hopeful about development and positive change on the continent, as well as hearing their stories was truly refreshing. I made new friends from different parts of the continent and came out of the fellowship feeling empowered and learning so much more than I knew.
Is there anything about the Fellowship which you wish would have been approached differently and why?
Perhaps the structure of the summit could be improved. The time given for interactive breakout sessions was short, since everyone had something interesting and informational to share. This did not allow us to fully explore what we wanted to sometimes. Everyone present had a valid lesson to share and ideas worth tapping into. Increasing the time for these sessions could be great, since it takes a bit of time to adjust to new faces and really get to understand a person's focus project.
Why should anyone consider applying for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is an eye-opening experience and great opportunity to learn more about the work other Africans are doing in their countries and beyond to drive impact. This fellowship opportunity not only allows one to be in the same space with others working on similar causes, but to also learn about their lived experiences in their pursuit.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in applying for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?
I’ll advise applicants to have a true cause they are interested and passionate about, have a thirst for knowledge and be open-minded.
Since 2014, nearly 6,500 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship. The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished leaders and have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries. For more information on this fellowship opportunity, click here.