Africa, the world’s second largest continent with a population of about 1.3 billion people  still lacks lags behind when it comes to leadership skills and training for the young people. More so, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the reality that the world’s systems are somewhat very fragile. Beyond the health and human tragedy, the virus has caused, the pandemic has continued to trigger the most severe economic crisis in a century with its impacts unevenly felt across nations, communities, and economies.

Many countries went into lockdown and businesses closed down with the most vulnerable members of the society being hit the hardest.  However, social entrepreneurs continued to show their capacities to be the first responders by bringing affordable healthcare to those in need, protecting jobs and providing emergency relief swiftly to those in dire need.

This demonstrated a systemic change to unlock society-wide transformation if social innovators and entrepreneurs are given the opportunity and the right support. 

In response to COVID-19, the Ford Foundation has announced the launch of the Forty-eight (48) Ford Global Fellows focused on addressing systemic inequality. The 48 emerging leaders from around the world, including East Africa, join the inaugural 24 fellows whose fellowship has been extended for two more years. Together, all 72 active fellows are bringing their local experiences to each other to design and reimagine solutions to global drivers of inequality. The fellowship will provide leaders with tools, networks, and solidarity they need to work better, smarter, and more sustainably in the long haul. 

“We are scaling the Ford Global Fellows faster because this crisis moment requires bolder commitments to creating a more just and equitable future,” says Adria Goodson, director of the Ford Global Fellowship. Adding: “People who are most proximate to injustice are stepping up and surfacing solutions to local challenges driven by global structures of inequality. More than ever, these emerging leaders across the globe need each other to strengthen and accelerate their ideas. We aim to support fellows as they build lasting networks and institutions that carry the work forward.”

Because COVID-19 has laid bare the crisis of inequality, and this has been compounded by vaccine inequity, job precarity, climate change, rising authoritarianism, and racial and gender inequity, Ford has adapted the fellowship to meet the urgency of the crises with a renewed urgency to combat it. 

In response, the Foundation is scaling up its flagship global fellowship program to support leaders from communities who face injustice head-on and help them cultivate their ideas and energy in solving long-standing inequalities exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic. 

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