An introduction to the Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship

The Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship, launched in 2021 and implemented by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), is a prestigious program aimed at cultivating communities of scientific leaders to address global health challenges in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a span of five years, this fellowship empowers exceptional scientists based in Africa who are on the brink of transformative breakthroughs in their careers, propelling them towards becoming influential and innovative leaders driving the adoption of impactful tools and policies.

This fellowship is named in honour of the late Prof Calestous Juma, a distinguished Kenyan sustainable development scientist who made significant contributions to understanding the role of science, technology, and innovation in fostering economic transformation in developing nations.

Central to the Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship is AFLI's leadership program, which plays a vital role in nurturing African leaders. Our objective is to foster well-rounded, effective leaders by providing them with opportunities to expand their networks and knowledge base. Our primary focus is to expedite the career progression of the Calestous Juma Fellows, enabling them to become visionary and transformative leaders who champion the implementation of new tools and policies for meaningful impact.

To achieve this, we offer comprehensive support beyond scientific expertise, equipping fellows with the necessary non-scientific skills to excel in their leadership roles. This includes building their capacity to form and lead teams, foster collaborations, strengthen institutions, effectively communicate with non-scientific stakeholders (including policymakers), advocate for the needs of their communities, and drive change in the research and development ecosystem to accelerate impact. Additionally, we provide fellows with opportunities to enhance their networks and broaden their knowledge through participation in conferences and engaging learning visits.

Key Features of the Program

Funding for Creative Projects: The program offers substantial funding to support exceptional African scientists in pursuing their innovative projects. This financial support aims to nurture and develop these projects into top-notch scientific programs with the potential for significant impact. By providing the necessary resources, the fellowship enables fellows to explore groundbreaking ideas and advance scientific knowledge in their respective fields.

Non-Scientific Skill-Building Support: Recognizing the importance of holistic leadership skills, the fellowship goes beyond scientific training to provide comprehensive non-scientific skill-building support. Fellows receive guidance and training to enhance their effectiveness as well-rounded leaders. They acquire the skills necessary to build and lead diverse teams, foster collaborations across disciplines, strengthen institutions and effectively communicate with non-scientific audiences, including policymakers. This equips them to advocate for the needs of their communities and drive tangible change in the research and development ecosystem, ultimately accelerating the impact of their work.

Networking and Knowledge Expansion: The fellowship program emphasises the value of networking and continuous learning. Fellows gain access to a wide range of opportunities to expand their networks and knowledge bases. They have the chance to participate in conferences where they can connect with other leading scientists, policymakers, and industry experts. These gatherings provide a platform for sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, and fostering partnerships. Additionally, fellows have the opportunity to embark on learning visits to renowned institutions, both within Africa and internationally, enabling them to gain new perspectives, exchange knowledge, and stay at the forefront of scientific advancements.

By combining financial support, non-scientific skill-building, and networking opportunities, the Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship Program aims to empower African scientists with the necessary tools and resources to become influential leaders in their fields. The program's multifaceted approach facilitates the development of transformative scientific programs, cultivates well-rounded leaders, and fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing, ultimately contributing to sustainable advancements in global health and beyond.

Key Attributes of Calestous Juma Fellows

Established Track Record and Credibility: Calestous Juma Fellows are distinguished African scientists who have demonstrated an exceptional track record of accomplishments and possess credibility within their scientific communities. They have made significant contributions to their respective fields, earning recognition and respect from their peers.

Transformational and Innovative Leadership: These fellows possess a unique ability to drive transformational and innovative leadership across disciplines. They are catalysts for change, inspiring and influencing others to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and practice. In addition to their own achievements, they are committed to mentoring and nurturing the next generation of leaders, imparting their expertise and guiding young scientists towards impactful careers.

Local Context Solutions: The fellows are permanently based in African research organisations, allowing them to develop solutions that address the specific challenges and needs of their local communities. Their deep understanding of the context and dynamics within Africa enables them to design and implement effective scientific programs that have a tangible positive impact on the region.

Career Acceleration: Calestous Juma Fellows are bonafide African scientists who are poised to leverage the fellowship program to propel their careers to senior-level science leadership positions. They possess the drive, ambition, and potential to make significant contributions to their fields, and the fellowship provides them with the necessary support, resources, and opportunities to accelerate their professional growth and influence.

By selecting fellows who have an established track record, transformative leadership qualities, a focus on local solutions, and a strong trajectory towards senior-level positions, the Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship program aims to empower exceptional African scientists to become influential leaders who drive positive change in their scientific communities and beyond.

Key Benefits of the Fellowship

Substantial Funding for Research Programs: Successful fellows of the program receive significant funding to build or expand their research programs. Over a period of five years, fellows can access up to 1,000,000 USD in financial support. This funding enables them to conduct groundbreaking research, invest in cutting-edge equipment, hire research staff, and implement innovative projects that have the potential to drive significant impact in their fields.

Networking Opportunities: Fellows have exclusive access to a valuable network of colleagues within the fellowship, as well as partners and strategic programmatic leads. This network provides a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and mutual support. By connecting with like-minded peers and established experts, fellows can broaden their perspectives, foster collaborations, and strengthen their professional relationships, ultimately enhancing their scientific endeavours.

Learning Opportunities: The fellowship program offers various learning opportunities through sponsorship. Fellows have the chance to attend conferences, workshops, and seminars that cover a wide range of topics relevant to their research and leadership development. These learning experiences expose fellows to the latest advancements in their fields, foster interdisciplinary dialogue, and stimulate innovative thinking, ultimately enriching their knowledge base and expanding their skill sets.

Non-Scientific Skill Building: The program recognises the importance of non-scientific skills in driving impactful leadership. Fellows receive comprehensive training and support in areas such as leadership development, communications, policy engagement, and institution strengthening. This all-rounded training equips fellows with the necessary skills to effectively communicate their research to diverse audiences, engage with policymakers, influence decision-making processes, and strengthen institutions within the health research and development ecosystem. By enhancing these skills, fellows are better positioned to achieve their intended impact and drive positive change.

Community of Practice: The fellowship program aims to establish a cohesive cohort of scientific talent, creating a vibrant community of practice. Fellows benefit from being part of a diverse group of scientists with a range of skills and expertise. This community facilitates collaboration, knowledge exchange, and mutual support, enabling fellows to complement and leverage each other's strengths. By fostering a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, the fellowship program cultivates a supportive ecosystem where fellows can thrive and make collective contributions to scientific advancement.

By offering substantial funding, networking opportunities, learning experiences, non-scientific skill building, and a supportive community, the Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellowship provides fellows with the necessary resources and support to accelerate their research programs, enhance their leadership capabilities, and ultimately make a lasting impact in their fields and the broader health research and development ecosystem.

You can find details of the fourteen fellows from eight African countries by clicking on the button.






About AFLI



The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) focuses on building the capacity and capability of visionary and strategic leadership across the continent. Developing exceptional leaders representing all spheres of society, the Institute’s flagship programme is the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Offering a multifaceted learning experience and run in partnership with Oxford University, it is awarded annually to 20-25 carefully chosen candidates, nominated from across Africa. Alumni of the African Leadership Institute form a dynamic network of Fellows passionately committed to the continent’s transformation, bridging the divide between nations and ensuring that Africa is set centre-stage in global affairs.