Congratulations to the 75 winners of the fifth round of AWARD Fellowships, who were announced in February 2013.
We encourage you to consider applying this year. The next call for applications will be announced on June 17, 2013 and application forms will be available on the website then.
1. What does an AWARD Fellowship include?
Unlike any other fellowship, AWARD delivers a well-tested, coordinated career-development package built on four cornerstones. Each AWARD Fellow benefits from:
2. How has AWARD helped participants to advance in their research careers?
The impacts of AWARD are very real. For example, from the preliminary evaluation results of our 2008 AWARD Fellows—the first to complete our two-year program—there is concrete evidence that 69 percent of our fellows have strengthened science skills. Sixty-four percent have strengthened the gender-responsiveness of their work. A total of 74 percent of AWARD Fellows demonstrate increased confidence and assertiveness, and a greater desire to lead and guide others. In other words AWARD is fostering a cadre of women scientists ready to play an influential role in African agriculture and development.
3. Who is eligible for an AWARD Fellowship?
Women agricultural scientists who are nationals of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, or Zambia, who have completed a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in the disciplines listed below, are eligible to apply. Applicants must be available in Africa throughout the fellowship period.
4. Is there an age restriction for applicants?
No. However, those close to retirement age are less likely to be selected.
5. I am not from Africa, can I apply?
Sorry, no. This program is specifically for women scientists and professionals from sub-Saharan Africa. Only nationals of the following countries qualify: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
6. I am African, but not from any of the countries listed. Am I eligible to apply?
Sorry, no. Only nationals of the listed countries qualify. However, we hope to expand the list of qualifying nationalities over the coming years, especially to francophone countries. The list of eligible countries will be announced annually.
7. There are no francophone countries listed. Is AWARD only working with anglophone countries?
Expansion to francophone countries is a high priority for AWARD, and we hope to be able to expand to francophone African countries in the near future.
8. I am a national from an eligible country, but I work in another country. Do I qualify to apply?
Yes, you qualify if you will be available in Africa throughout the fellowship period, should you be chosen.
9. I am a BSc student and expect to complete my studies soon. Do I qualify for a fellowship?
Not yet. Please apply in the future once you have been awarded your bachelor’s degree.
10. I am an MSc student and expect to complete my studies soon. Do I qualify for a fellowship?
Yes, you qualify for a post-bachelor’s fellowship. Alternatively, you may wish to wait until you have your master’s degree and then apply for a post-master’s fellowship when the next call for applications is announced. If you will graduate this year, please indicate that on the application.
11. I am currently studying for my PhD. Do I qualify?
Yes, you qualify for the post-master’s fellowship.
12. I graduated, but I am not yet employed. May I apply without institutional support?
Yes, you are eligible to apply.
13. I am an African woman working for the CGIAR. May I apply for an AWARD Fellowship?
Yes. Researchers from international agricultural research centers, including CGIAR centers, who are nationals of the eligible countries and who will be in Africa throughout the fellowship period, can also apply.
14. I am working in agricultural R&D, but my specified subject area is not listed. May I apply?
We include a wide range of agricultural research disciplines. If in doubt, please apply and your case will be considered. Those disciplines most relevant to AWARD’s goal of improving the livelihoods of smallholders, especially women farmers, will be given priority.
15. I am not a scientist, but I have a degree. I work for an export company that deals with agricultural products. I think I could learn a lot from your fellowship. May I apply?
No, the fellowship is designed for women scientists working in the listed disciplines.
16. I am employed in the private sector. May I apply?
You are eligible to apply if you are working in agricultural research in a private institution.
17. A colleague of mine is an AWARD Fellow. Is it possible to have two fellows in the same organization?
Yes, it is possible to have several fellows from the same institution.
18. I was an AWARD Mentor in an earlier round. May I apply as a fellow?
Yes, you can apply as long as you meet the application eligibility criteria.
19. Do I need to have permission or support from my employer to participate in AWARD?
If you do win an AWARD Fellowship, you will be asked to provide a letter of support from your institution and two references.
Letter of support: from your institution’s head (NARI Director, Dean of Faculty, or equivalent authority), indicating full support for your participation in the fellowship program. This includes full support for your on-going research work and time and transport provision to meetings within your country and to the nearest international airport to allow you to attend workshops and programs offered during the fellowship period.
Two referee forms: each completed by a reputable professional in your area of research or development. Each referee must complete the form and return it to AWARD by email.
20. I told my boss I wanted to apply, but he says that it will take me away from my job too much. How much time does the fellowship require?
The fellowship does not require a large amount of time in general. You will attend one or two week-long training courses semi-annually. You will also meet with your mentor for about an hour once a month. However, you may decide to apply for an AWARD-supported research attachment, which is available to AWARD Fellows with master’s and doctoral degrees. If you are chosen, you will have to negotiate with your institution to be absent for three to nine months. These research attachments benefit both you and your home institution.
21. I don’t have email or internet access. Can I still participate in AWARD?
Internet access is essential for many AWARD activities. You must have a valid email address in order to participate effectively.
22. Who selects the winners?
The AWARD Steering Committee selects the winners based on intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of the scientist’s research to improve the daily lives of smallholder farmers, especially women.
23. When do you announce the winners?
Successful candidates will be informed in mid-December 2012 and they have about two weeks to indicate their acceptance.
24. How many winners will be chosen?
Up to 70 women will be chosen to receive an AWARD Fellowship this year.
25. If I am selected as an AWARD Fellow, when does the program begin?
AWARD begins with a week-long Mentoring Orientation Workshop for new fellows and their mentors in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop is offered three times in February/March 2013 and fellows and mentors must attend one of the three sessions.
26. AWARD offers training courses and meetings throughout the two-year fellowship. When and where do these take place?
Fellows participate in several AWARD training courses, which are tailored according to academic level. The courses and AWARD meetings are held regionally in East, West, and Southern Africa so that fellows do not have to travel too far. A schedule of events will be provided to new AWARD Fellows.
27. I understand that AWARD Fellows stay in their jobs and workplaces during the fellowship. Why don’t you bring them all to one place for two years?
We are not a scholarship program. AWARD seeks to strengthen the capacity of African female agricultural researchers so they can contribute to food security and poverty alleviation even more effectively. We also want to help strengthen the capacity of their home institutions by building the fellows’ research skills and leadership abilities.
28. I have a family and I’m worried about being able to attend the training sessions. Is it necessary to attend all?
Yes, it is necessary to attend all trainings offered. Most courses are one week long, with the maximum being two weeks. If you are nursing, you may bring your child with you and AWARD will arrange for a resident nanny for your baby while you attend the course.
29. Does AWARD support academic work?
No, we don’t provide funds for academic study. However, AWARD Fellows receive regular information about available scholarship and research funding opportunities.
30. How much do I get paid as a fellow?
AWARD does not include cash payments except token amounts to cover direct expenses for participation in its events. AWARD does not pay sitting fees. When attending an AWARD workshop, expenses are fully covered on your behalf. Depending on your level, AWARD covers expenses for training programs, professional memberships, travel, and more.
31. What distinguished the winning AWARD Fellows from the other applicants? What did they get right in their applications?
What sets winning AWARD applicants apart (from many other high quality competitors) is that they convincingly demonstrated alignment between their career and personal goals and AWARD’s mission. In particular, they showed great potential and genuine interest in pro-poor research and development to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, particularly women. They provided tangible evidence about this in their resumes/CVs, providing real evidence that they have what it takes to help change the agricultural landscape in Africa.
32. What did those who didn't win a fellowship do wrong?
About 10 percent of the applications that AWARD received in previous years were incomplete. Another 25 percent submitted complete applications, but with only minimal information (e.g. where we asked for half a page for a certain answer, some wrote one short sentence).
About 65 percent of the applications were fully complete—and so began the difficult task of selecting the best and most promising women scientists for an AWARD Fellowship. As is often the case with job applications, a common mistake that applicants make is to focus exclusively on why the fellowship is important to them. Although that is certainly part of the AWARD selection focus, we also need to see that applicants understand that ultimately the AWARD Fellowship is designed to impact the rural poor. This “me-focus”—looking only at one’s own short-term personal and professional needs—disqualifies a large number of otherwise eligible applicants. Although highly intelligent and promising, we think these women are not yet ready for an AWARD Fellowship where sharing forward and challenging the status quo for good are such a central focus.
33. What is expected out of the fellows during the fellowship?
The fellows are expected to set three attainable career goals during the initial Mentoring Orientation Workshop with their mentors and to work toward achieving those during the fellowship period. They are expected to participate fully in the AWARD courses and to apply the knowledge and skills gained concretely.
34. Who funds AWARD?
AWARD is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development. We also receive support from Agropolis Fondation, the U.S. State Department, and several research institutions that sponsor advanced science studies for selected AWARD Fellows.
35. When will the call for applications for the next round of AWARD Fellowships be announced?
The next call for applications will be announced in August 2013 and application forms will be available on the website then.