Yali 2015 Application Essay

The best leaders are those humble enough to seek answers from others

Adebayo Alonge

The Solutions Ideator
image credit: http://www.opportunitiesforafricans.com

Congratulations now that you are through to this stage.

It says a lot about you to have made it this far. Now make it count.

This stage is as competitive as the application stage and you need to give it you best.

Follow these tips to improve your chance of making it through:-

1. Master your essays

Your interview will be based on your application. You need to prove that you wrote it yourself and that you are passionate about the leadership mission you outlined.

Ensure you articulate how you expect the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship to help you on your path to achieving your mission. Go through the objectives of the YALI initiative and ensure your link your personal motives with the overall goal of the program.

2.Show that the fellowship will make a difference for your work

The panelists will like to know why you want to go on the fellowship after all there are many similar opportunities online and within your country to advance your mission.

You must therefore state clearly how going on the fellowship will make a difference in helping you achieve your mission. Ensure you articulate the value you bring on the program- to your country, your host institution, your host community and the cohort you join.

3. Espouse the principles of servant leadership

Your responses should show that you are a true servant leader-not one who is out for himself alone.

How do you intend to ensure that others benefit from you going on the fellowship? How are you currently organizing your work to benefit others in your community? If you are not consumed with passion about serving the weak in your community, you cannot be a Mandela Washington Fellow.

4. Show interview etiquette

Dress like a leader. Ensure you maintain eye contact and hand shake firmly. Take your seat only when offered and be polite. Master the names of the panelists-better you write them down when they introduce themselves and refer to them by their first names through your conversations.

Show confidence through your voice-project and sit up on your seat. When leaving say thank you with a smile and a  slight bow and gently close the door behind you.

Stay smiling all through.

5. Engage and be engaging

Maintain the conversation. Be a pleasure to talk with and ensure you ask at least an intelligent question especially as the interview draws to an end.

Note that your panelists will be experts in your track and your questions can serve to show the value you will bring on the study part of the fellowship .

The greatest leaders are those who ask the most thought provoking questions and who are humble enough to seek answers from others.

I look forward to welcoming you as a Mandela Washington Fellow.


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The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched by President of the United States Barack Obama as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. The need to invest in grooming strong, results-oriented leaders comes out of the statistics: nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60% of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. Who will empower and lead these young Africans? Who will shape the future of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management? In order to answer these questions, YALI promotes three models designed to identify and empower young leaders: the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship, YALI Network and now the establishment of Regional Leadership Centers across Africa.


  • An innovative and game changing leadership training program in Africa. The program will be hosted by Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)
  • The first cohort will walk through the doors on the 31st July 2014.


  • The YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa is looking for young men and women between the ages of 18 and 35
  • From Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
  • Who are ready to embrace leadership and work hard to transform their countries.

DEADLINE: 12th June 2015.

To apply and for more information visit here.

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