The Young African Leaders Initiative, commonly known as YALI, develops leadership and entrepreneurship skills and connects participants with their peers and with the American people. Established in 2010, YALI is managed and implemented by the Department of State and USAID. YALI enjoys strong support in the United States, in Congress, in the academic community, and across sub-Saharan Africa. YALI consists of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which began in 2014 and is funded and managed by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; the online YALI Network created in 2013 and managed by the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs; and four USAID Regional Leadership Centers established in 2015 in sub-Saharan Africa. As of 2022, YALI has nearly 5,800 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni and more than 22,000 alumni from the USAID Regional Leadership Centers, in addition to 640,000 YALI Network members.
In 2010, the White House and the Department of State hosted the President’s Forum for Young African Leaders, which brought 115 young leaders from 46 sub-Saharan African nations to Washington, D.C. President Obama hosted a town hall for participants in the Presidential Young African Leaders Forum at the White House. In June 2011, the First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum in South Africa brought together 76 young African women leaders to discuss themes of leadership, women’s empowerment, and community service. In 2012, the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership included 62 participants representing over 35 sub-Saharan African countries for three weeks of professional exchange and entrepreneurial internships in U.S. cities. The 2012 Innovation Summit coincided with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.