United States Embassy in Mali
No: 10-EN Bamako, Mali, August 18, 2021
To celebrate International Youth Day and the Young African Leaders Initiative’s (YALI) 11th anniversary, U.S. Ambassador Dennis Hankins presided over a ceremony honoring six young Malian leaders who recently completed the YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Established in 2010, YALI is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI has grown to include the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program; an extensive digital community called the YALI Network; and four Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, including in Dakar, where more than 120 young Malian leaders have completed programs. These initiatives aim to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, spur economic growth and prosperity, and foster peace and security in Africa by engaging and investing in its young leaders.
With more than 24,000 alumni between the Regional Leadership Centers and the Mandela Washington Fellowship, YALI is the State Department’s oldest and most robust regional youth exchange program. In Mali, alumni from these programs are entrepreneurs, educators, human rights defenders, advocates for vulnerable populations, and so much more—all united by their commitment to strengthen their communities and positively impact Mali’s future.
The 2021 Mandela Washington Fellows were selected among more than 320 applicants nationwide and represent Bamako, Mopti, Koulikoro, and Timbuktu.
- Bakary Coulibaly, from Koulikoro, studied Business and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University. He founded the Computer Science Training Center of Safo (C.F.I.S) to help youth in his community escape poverty by providing them with skills necessary to pursue a job in the technology field.
- Mariam Doumbia, from Bamako, studied Business and Entrepreneurship at Purdue University. Mariam serves as Country Director of OKO Finance, an international social enterprise providing crop insurance solutions to rural farmers, and is the owner of a moringa farm, which aims to build a network of rural women to grow moringa in villages surrounding Bamako.
- Ezechiel Amagoron Douyon, from Mopti, studied Civic Engagement at Kansas State University. In addition to working at SNV Netherlands Development Organization, Ezechiel founded an association building youth capacity and promoting civic engagement and co-founded a school, Complexe Scolaire Douyon.
- Boncana Maiga, from Bamako, studied Public Management at the University of Minnesota. Boncana has more than 10 years of experience as a child advocate and one day hopes to found his own lobbying organization and establish an advocacy and lobbying school.
- Salimata Sangare, from Bamako, studied Public Management at Texas Tech University. Salimata has myriad experiences in tax policy and in building public-private partnerships. She currently works at the Mali Investment Promotion Agency (API-MALI) as Director of the One-Stop Business Registration Office and has led projects for UN Women and the UN Capital Development Fund to promote women’s entrepreneurship.
- Diana Sididi, from Timbuktu, studied Civic Engagement at Kansas State University. A women’s rights and disability advocate, Diana works as communications consultant at World Bank Group, and is co-founder of Derhane, a video blog which advocates for diversity and inclusion.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Hankins explained “the YALI program puts service at the heart of leadership and seeks to connect leaders across Africa, which will be crucial to the continent’s future success.”
The YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship includes six weeks of academic and leadership training hosted by U.S. universities with a focus on one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship; Civic Leadership; or Public Management. Upon returning to their home countries, fellows continue to build their skills through support from U.S. embassies and other partners. Fellows have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training, community service, and seed funding to support their ideas and ventures.