The Mawazo PhD Scholars Programme

The Mawazo PhD Scholars programme is a one-year, non-residential fellowship aimed at women pursuing PhD studies at Kenyan universities. The goal of this programme is to build a strong pipeline of future researchers who are prepared to ask insightful questions about African development, and effectively communicate their results to both government and industry leaders and the general public. 

We welcome applications from women in any academic discipline, with a preference for research projects focused on development-related topics. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on the next application window.

You can read more about our inaugural 2018 cohort of 10 PhD Scholars on our blog.

Programme Components

The Mawazo PhD Scholars Programme supports 10 female PhD students at Kenyan universities each year.  Mawazo PhD Scholars receive the following benefits:

  • A research grant worth Ksh 500,000 on average (precise value will vary depending on the amount needed for each Scholar’s research)

  • Training in research methods, academic writing, grant writing, public engagement, and the publication process

  • Research and editorial support from the Mawazo staff

  • Travel grants for participation in regional or international conferences

  • Connections to mentors, and industry and government leaders, in their field

  • A dedicated desk at Mawazo’s office at Ikigai, Spring Valley, Nairobi

Mawazo PhD Scholars are expected to achieve the following goals during their fellowship year:

  • Make substantial progress in collecting data for and/or writing up their current research project

  • Develop a plan for identifying suitable journals and submitting their article for publication once it’s complete

  • Identify outside research grants or post-docs, and submit at least two grant applications

  • Participate in at least one academic conference

  • Regularly attend training sessions and networking events in Nairobi (travel funding is available for Scholars who are based outside Nairobi)

  • Publicise their work by speaking at public lectures arranged by Mawazo, writing blog posts and op-eds, and (if possible) making radio or TV appearances


You are eligible to apply for the Mawazo PhD Scholars programme if you are:

  • A woman under the age of 40

  • A citizen of an African country

  • Enrolled in a PhD programme at a Kenyan university, in any department

  • Working on or about to begin working on an academic research project which is related to African development, and which is intended for publication

  • Currently living in Kenya, or otherwise able to travel to Nairobi at least two times per month during the fellowship year

We have a slight preference for research projects using social science research methods, rather than lab-based research.  This is because we are not logistically equipped to support lab-based research.  However, many components of the programme are broadly applicable across academic disciplines, so do feel free to submit an application even if your work is lab-based.  

Application process

The application includes the following materials:

  • A current CV, including at least two references

  • A letter from the applicant's university department confirming current enrollment in the PhD programme

  • A letter of support from a supervisor at the PhD programme (emailed directly to the PhD Scholars contact address with the subject line "Letter of Support -- [Applicant's First and Last Name]")

  • A research proposal of 1000 words or less, including:

    • Brief literature review

    • Description of proposed research design and data collection methods

    • Summary of work completed on the project to date

    • List of next steps and estimated timeline to complete the project

  • A budget for the project

    • Applicants may request up to Ksh 500,000 from Mawazo

    • Mawazo provides a conference travel grant on top of the research funding, so the project budget should not include any expenses related to conference travel

    • Please use Mawazo's budget template

All applications will be reviewed by the Mawazo Institute staff and a panel of external reviewers.  Successful applicants will demonstrate that they can do the following:

  • Identify a problem which has important implications for African development

  • Demonstrate that current academic research has not identified a suitable solution to this challenge

  • Propose a research project on this topic which has an appropriate research design for the question being asked, and can be feasibly answered given the financial resources and time that the applicant can dedicate to the project

  • Write a summary of their project which is clear, concrete, and accessible to scholars outside their own field

The Mawazo Institute is committed to non-discrimination in the application review process.  There is no cost to submit an application to the PhD Scholars programme.


Mawazo will be launching its alumni programme in 2019. Stay up-to-date and find out how you can get involved by joining our newsletter mailing list below.