Clover Mama Afrika has never turned a blind eye to the plight of people in need, in fact this is why the Clover Mama Afrika project was established in 2004. The goal was, and 15 years later still is, to give South Africans from disadvantaged communities back their pride and livelihoods, by upskilling ‘mamas’ in various communities and empowering these women.

“The concept of Clover Mama Afrika is simple, we empower female community caregivers and leaders with viable skills, which they in turn pass on to others in order to become sustainable. Collectively these women care for over 12 800 children and more than 1 200 elderly across South Africa. We have appointed 45 mamas over the years. These are women that we work with on an ongoing basis and have since hosted 397 training sessions with over 2182 beneficiaries since 2004,” explains Prof Elain Vlok, Clover Corporate Services Manager and Clover Mama Afrika Trust.

Mama Selestien Moses is a prime example of the ladies who benefit from the project. She is now one of Clover Mama Afrika’s top three mamas in the project, and has come a long way. She is one of the many women positively impacted and empowered by with skills training. . 

Selestien started her outreach programme, Open Door Policy to Ashbury Community in 2007 and has 290 children in her care as well as 84 elderly people. “When Clover Mama Afrika came knocking on my door, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands,” she explains. “I want to be the difference and empower women and plough back to my community all the skills I have and am learning from Clover Mama Afrika. I went through a lot of pain myself and I know what it is like to be hungry. The feeling of ‘there’s never money’ and the rejection, is something I have experienced first-hand. I saw the same in my community and I wanted to be different. I did not want to be ordinary, but extraordinary,” she says. 

“When Mama Selestien started out she did not know a thing about business, but from all her courses and training she attended, she has acquired a lot of knowledge. She works hard to do her best in everything that she takes on and does,” explains Prof Vlok. She currently has a bakery that is doing very well and her dream for her bakery is not solely based on bread baking, but also on producing other foods and catering. For this reason, she started to do more cake baking and preparing of other dishes. Subsequently, she has secured a contract with local restaurants for delivery of her koeksisters, milk tarts and breads and she is managing a successful catering projects where she hosts up to 3 functions per weekend. 

Virginie Merime, who has learnt everything she knows from her mother-in-law, Mama Shirley, is an example of how secondary skills are obtained by others through the Clover Mama Afrika training sessions. She is one of the many people positively impacted by the upskilling. Virginie helped her mom-in-law with the day-to-day needs at her centre, a non-profit organisation, the Ebenezer Hannah Home (EHH), which is based in Ennerdale, Johannesburg. Here she was able to take part in courses and skills workshops that were provided by Clover Mama Afrika and now assists in taking care of underprivileged kids and destitute elderly persons. “We saw her keen interest in cooking and through our friends at MLK Chef School, Virginie won a fantastic Chef’s course to help her follow her dreams and further her development,” says Prof Vlok.

While employment can be difficult to find, these mamas provide opportunities at grassroots level. This means employees don’t need to have degrees or to travel far in search of work. Community projects give people with little skill the chance to grow and thrive. 

Clover Mama Afrika has always stood for women empowerment and empowering their mamas with vital skills such as cooking, baking, sewing, quilting, business management, food gardening and bread baking skills. Over and above the training sessions, these women are all supplied with the necessary tools to tackle poverty and create employment, including equipment and support infrastructure which are shared in order to create an income for themselves and others whilst giving back to their communities.

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