Open Doors Fellowship Program 2024 for Women Researchers in Africa

The Open Doors Fellowship is a comprehensive program that assists African women researchers in developing the essential hard and soft skills to strengthen their placements within their host institutions and, ultimately, avoid dropping out before completing their consolidation period.

The ODFP is aimed at postdoctoral and mid-career female agricultural researchers working at African (inter)national research centers. Their approach intends to aid in the consolidation of mid-career researchers and prevent them from leaking out of the scientific pipeline.

As a result of its unique conceptualization and implementation, the program is adapted to the training needs of its participants in order to create a rewarding, loving, and empowering learning experience.

Program Details

The program is structured in two phases. In Phase 1 (1-4 months), fellows expand their research horizons and scientific network in Belgium through a fully-funded short research stage of three months. This stage occurs in a laboratory where fellows can use equipment not accessible in Africa and learn new techniques and skills relevant to fast-track their research.

Yet, their program pursues to actively connect the Belgian laboratories with the existing African research to generate long-term and mutual learning for enriching collaborations. To this end, the continuous North-South and South-South collaborations between the labs are fostered after this phase through diverse projects managed by IPBO.

While in Belgium, the fellows receive courses on cross-cultural communication, public presentation skills, and how to submit competitive project proposals under the EU Horizon funding scheme, together with their Belgian counterparts.

In Phase 2, upon returning to Africa, the fellows can tailor their training curriculum over 16 months by accessing six courses from the VIB training online portfolio on soft, hard skills and coaching courses during this period. Beyond these, the training package includes Negotiation Skills, Project Management and Self-Leadership modules to help their beneficiaries navigate their careers more confidently.


  • The program supports their fellows’ scientific and public visibility because if research outputs are not visible, fellows aren’t either. To this end, participants receive training on scientific communication and financial incentives to attend congresses and open-access publication fees.


  • Applicants are post-doc female scholars (minimum one year after defending their PhD) or in mid-career positions who experience challenges to progress in their career path due to limited access to training, infrastructure and international networks. There are no age limits.
  • Scholarship candidates should be national and resident in one of the VLIR- UOS scholarship countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania or Uganda); or employee of a target organization in one of these countries (candidates exceptionally can have a different nationality). This requirement is not applicable for the Slot Water and Oxidative Stress Resistance (Slot Identification Number: ODF_06).
  • Applicants’ research fields must be plant breeding, agrobiotechnology, molecular biology and genetics, microbiology, chemical ecology, plant & soil health, livestock or aquaculture.
  •  Applicants must have an active employment contract in a High Education institution or an (inter)national research centre in any of the countries listed above for the duration of the fellowship (20 months), where they conduct research and teach.
  • Applicants are supervising MSc or PhD students and supporting staff.

Deadline: January 31, 2024

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