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Professional Fellows Program
January 30, 2023

United States Department of State Professional Fellows Program—Advancing Young Women Agribusiness Entrepreneurs and Innovators: A Rwanda-South Africa-Zambia-Zimbabwe-U.S. Partnership


The Advancing Young Women Professional Fellows Program is sponsored by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by Michigan State University (US), University of Rwanda (Rwanda), University of Pretoria (South Africa), University of Zambia (Zambia) and Chinhoyi University of Technology (Zimbabwe). The goal of the program is to build Fellows’ capacity and skills in agro-entrepreneurship and agri-food system innovation and advance their ability to support women’s economic empowerment. Rwandan, South African, Zambian and Zimbabwean Fellows will develop their leadership capacity and professional skills through a fully funded five-week fellowship program in the U.S. 


The US program will include a four-week professional internship with Michigan organizations focused on agriculture, innovation, agro-entrepreneurship, and women’s empowerment and additional seminars and training with professionals from Michigan State University and throughout the state of Michigan.


We are recruiting young Rwandan, South African, Zambian and Zimbabwean professionals from diverse backgrounds in the private, public, non-governmental, and education sectors who are either women agribusiness entrepreneurs or individuals working to increase women’s economic engagement in the agricultural sector.


The initial application for the program will remain open until February 24, 2023.


Interviews for selected finalists will take place in April, 2023.


Tentative Fall 2023 program dates: September 1 – October 7, 2023.


Tentative Spring 2024 program dates: May 3 – June 7, 2024.


Who Should Apply:

  • Women entrepreneurs, social innovators, or small and medium business owners or managers and other leaders working in the agriculture and food sectors
  • Individuals (of any gender) in civil society and NGOs working on programs that support women in the agriculture and food sectors in their respective countries
  • Policymakers, ministry employees, and others in the public sector (of any gender) focused on supporting and improving opportunities for women in the agriculture or food sector
  • Academic staff (of any gender) who are implementing programs that advance women in the agriculture and food sectors


Eligibility Requirements:

  • 25-40 years old
  • A citizen, national, or permanent resident of South Africa
  • Is living and working in South Africa at the time of the application
  • Fluent in both spoken and written English
  • Has at least two years of professional/working experience in their field
  • Has demonstrated leadership and collaborative skills and a commitment to community development
  • Has employer’s support for participating in the program (for those not self-employed). For those self-employed, has recommendation from local authorities at the district and/or community levels
  • Is interested in participating in a reciprocal program for American participants coming to your country
  • Preference will be given to those who are in an earlier state of their careers
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have not previously had the opportunity to travel to the US

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Anastacia Mamabolo

Associate Professor, Gordon Institute of Business Science

University of Pretoria





Detailed Program Information

The first five-week program in the U.S. is tentatively scheduled for September 1 – October 7, 2023

and the second forMay 3 – June 7, 2024. Both programs will include:


Part 1: Three-month virtual program lead-in prior to travel to East Lansing, Michigan


Part 2: Post-Arrival Orientation in East Lansing, Michigan


Part 3: Four-Week Program in Michigan Communities


Part 4: Three-Day Participation in the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC