Building Bridges offers an annual fellowship programme. It seeks to identify the next generation of African leaders and equip them with the skills, knowledge and networks that will enable them to operate more effectively in their chosen spheres of influence. The long-term goal is to build a strong cohort of innovative and courageous African leaders committed to public service, with vision, ethics and the necessary skills to bring about change.

Get to know our programme alumni here


  • What does the programme involve?

    Two weeks of intensive leadership training, where participants are given the opportunity to engage with African experts in governance, policy and actvism. Core leadership skills are developed through facilitated group sessions and the practical application of concepts and tools in real-life situations. Each participant is allocated an executive coach to provide support and guidance, both during and after the course.

    Key focus areas include:

    • Becoming an effective and courageous ethical agent
    • Driving change and innovation
    • Leveraging networks for collaborative action
    • Fostering African solutions for African and global problems
  • What is covered financially?

    Generous funding from the Ford Foundation and IDRC means that all tuition, accommodation, transport and meal costs for the two weeks of the programme are covered by the fellowship. Airfares to Cape Town are the responsibility of each individual participant, but need-based scholarships are available for those unable to sponsor their own flight.

  • Who should apply?

    The candidate profile for the Emerging African Leaders Programme is an early to mid-career African professional (aged 25-35) with a minimum of 3-5 years' work experience in the following sectors:

    • Public institution
    • NGO or non-profit
    • Research
    • Multi-lateral institution
    • Media and the arts
    • Business entrepreneurship

    Successful candidates should demonstrate high leadership potential, personal integrity, a committment to public service and be passionate about development in Africa. Individuals must be conversant in English and available for the full period of the fellowship.

  • How can I apply?

    Candidates cannot apply directly to the programme, but must first be nominated by a supervisor or mentor. Calls for participanting counrties will be made annually by Building Bridges by mid-October. Interested candidates can download the application forms from our website and pass then on to their immediate work or academic supervisor. After an initial selection process, first round candidates will personally be invited to submit their own applications. Building Bridges performs a final round of interviews before notifying successful candidates of their inclusion in the programme.

  • How do you select applications?

    There is no 'typical' candidate. In fact, we encourage diversity, both in terms of nationality and occupation. What our participants inevitably have in common, however, is a deep committment to engagement in public life and a vision for where they would like their career trajectory to take them.