US Embassy’s Mandela Washington Fellows Return to South Africa, Embark on Projects to Improve Education, Entrepreneurship, and Employment Opportunitie

PRETORIA – 46 Mandela Washington Fellows have returned to South Africa after spending six weeks in the United States studying at U.S. Universities, engaging with President Barack Obama in Washington, DC, and collaborating with 500 other young African leaders to address the challenges affecting their continent.

The fellows, ages 25-35, return with seed money designed to enable them to implement the changes they most seek in South Africa.

Fellows Danielle Manuel, Andrew Gasnolar, and Lukholo Ngamlama have received SAR 200,000 to create a youth mentorship program in the Western Cape township communities. They will work in collaboration with the Western Cape Premier’s Office and the University of Cape Town to offer opportunities to over 1,500 youth. Ms. Manuel says, “Our proposal aims to journey with a group of talented young leaders through their personal leadership development and empower them to realise their dreams, regardless of the circumstances of their birth.”

Fellows Mhlanganisi Madlongolwana and Samantha Beckbessinger will use their SAR 100,000 grant to create a Desert Start-Up Bootcamp in the rural community of Upington. The fellows will design a curriculum specific to the realities of the business environment in the Northern Cape, and develop mentorship opportunities to help the young entrepreneurs succeed.

Fellows Lerato Tshbalala and Ntuthuko Shezi will expand the Corporate Social Investment arm of their auto body repair business in Johannesburg. With their SAR 200,000 grant from the US Embassy, the Fellows will offer free training to unskilled workers in Gauteng Province, allowing them to seeks jobs in an industry with entry level wages over 15,000 Rand per month. Applications to join the training program will be available soon. Mr. Shezi, runs Scratch Mobile auto repair, and expresses frustration that auto body jobs go unfilled when there are high unemployment rates in his home community.

For more information about the fellowship, click here. To request interviews with our fellows, please contact the U.S. Embassy contacts at the number or email listed above. Applications for South Africans to become a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow will be available October 7.