The story of Clover Mama Afrika


The ancient wisdom of “Ubuntu” is a concept that remains close to the hearts and minds of all South Africans. It means quite simply that “I am who I am because of others around me; I am because we are”. Perhaps more significantly, the spirit of Ubuntu refers to the fact that we are human because we belong to a greater community and as such, we view and treat others accordingly. It is an African term for a universal concept that forms the very foundation of the Clover Mama Afrika initiative.

Since 2004, the Clover Mama Afrika initiative has set out to restore some of the best aspects of African tradition into modern life, such as caring for one another, passing on skills and protecting the young, the weak and the aged. Today, the project places a strong emphasis on assisting people in disadvantaged communities to learn to help themselves so that they may regain their pride, establish self-sustaining livelihoods and become valuable members of their communities and to society at large.

The Clover Mama Afrika ethos is “Ukwakha Isizwe”, which means “building and nurturing our nation”. For 10 years now, the programme has sought to achieve exactly this by empowering community caregivers with viable skills which they can then pass on to others so that they too can earn a sustainable income for themselves, their families and their communities. Sustainable skills transfer is at the heart of the Clover Mama Afrika initiative, which honours a time when skills were passed on from generation-to-generation and community elders were respected for their wisdom and insight.  

For 13 years now, Clover Mama Afrika has established a reputation for being one of the country’s most innovative, effective and sustainable corporate investment programmes, bringing tangible benefits to the people it aims to uplift at grassroots level. 

Introducing Clover’s Mamas

At the heart of the programme are the carefully chosen “mamas” who already act as pillars of strength in their communities at the time their selection. Hand-picked by Clover and its area managers, mamas are incredibly special ladies who already make a difference to the people around them and want to empower others to become self-sustaining too.

The programme sees that they are trained in a variety of essential skills that can then be passed on to other community members. Cooking, baking, sewing, curio making, hair care and food gardening are just some of the training they receive and significantly, they are also presented with the necessary tools, equipment and infrastructure to create an income for their communities on the back of their newly acquired skills.

Embrace the Spirit of Ubuntu and Help Keep the Clover Mamas Going

Hugely important to the success of Clover Mama Afrika is the open-hearted attitude of the programme’s corporate partners and sponsors who assist to make it meaningful for so many needy people across South Africa. Professor Elain Vlok, Clover’s manager of Corporate Services who drives Clover Mama Afrika with passion, dedication and insight, believes that the programme’s on-going success is built on a generosity of spirit that is at the same time, the very essence of “Ubuntu”.

As a respected JSE-listed company with a century-long history of serving farmers and the public through a wide range of world class “way better” dairy and beverage products, Clover is committed to maintaining Clover Mama Afrika’s status as a corporate social investment programme that makes a real difference. In line with its commitment to the programme, Clover also ensures that Clover Mama Afrika meets the highest levels of transparency and corporate governance.

With that said, Clover is of the firm belief that the best way for Clover Mama Afrika to have the greatest possible impact is through partnership and collaboration with other organisations and individuals that want to embed sustainability into the fabric of South African society. Besides, the wide-ranging needs of South African communities require committed teamwork from as many people as possible who have the means to make things happen for those who don’t.
Training and Skills Development
Cooking and Baking Courses

Teaming up with training facilitators such as Good Food Studios of Pick ‘n Pay, Chipkins, Clover Mama Afrika Trust, Bella Donna and our own Prof Elain Vlok, invests in cooking and baking courses where members are taught basic cooking skills as well as advanced courses and more specialised courses such as cake baking and cake decorating. These courses have been the inspiration for profitable self-help projects for many of the Mamas, with some even starting catering services.

The courses also provide the costing of meals, ingredient selection, dish presentation and cooking theory as well as high emphasis on personal hygiene, food hygiene and cleanliness of kitchen and appliances.

The starter kit for these courses includes: Kenwood Major Mixer and general kitchen appliances and accessories. Some centres are also given new stoves and ovens.

Bread Oven Project

This is a two-week training with Siyabonga Africa whose objective is teaching people the art of bread making. Bread is the staple diet for many people in South Africa and this project gives the Mamas the opportunity of feeding their members as well as generating a good income.

Every centre is equipped with a mini bakery consisting of gas operated and/or electrical oven, gas cylinder, workbench, proofer, mixer as well as start up ingredients to bake 100 loaves. Further training is also provided to expand on this project by baking popular confectionery goods such as scones, biscuits, banana loaves and much more.

This is one of the most viable self-help project.

Sewing Project

Bernina SA provides all the sewing courses starting with a two week beginners training session that teaches them to operate both the sewing and overlock machine. The members return for further training that includes: advanced training and more progressive training. By the end of the year, members have acquired valuable knowledge to complete items such as: tracksuits, skirts and jackets as well as evening dresses.

Further workshops such as the Denim Drives is offered where fast sellable denims items such as bags and aprons are made. This is also made possible thanks to the valuable partnership with Levis Strauss who donates the denim fabric.

The sewing starter kit includes a Bernina sewing machine and an overlocker with accessories and they receive material off-cuts on a regular basis.

Food Gardens 
This intensive two to three day training course with Reel Gardening and Food & Trees for Africa, teaches Clover Mamas to grow vegetables by optimising minimum space with limited resources. Course topics include water use and conservation, nutrition and pest control without poison.

The course is aimed not only at enabling the Mamas, but to empower entire communities. This is achieved by training the unemployed and providing them with seed packs and garden tools to start their own organic gardens with a view to expanding, generating an income and becoming self-sufficient.

This course was identified as a beneficial skill to have in the Western and Northern Cape communities but it has now grown countrywide due to demand. Facilitators Charlie du Toit of Bernina Blackheath, Rachel du Toit of Swellendam and our very own Prof Elain Vlok provides these Mamas with beginners, intermediate and various advanced courses.

Further workshops with renowned quilters like Marie du Toit and Rachel du Toit are offered.

Trained members are in turn empowering other members of their respective communities and have a production line. These exclusively made items are also being marketed to the overseas market.

Flower arrangement

The flower arrangement workshop was offered due to the great demand in various communities. Many of them caters for various functions such as weddings, christenings and alas funerals (some centres experience up to two funerals per week). There was a need for them to create affordable flower arrangements.

The workshop is facilitated by Flower Connexion of Johannesburg and a yearly workshop is held at the Smarties Week with Gerda Tuffin of Cape School of Floristry for all Mamas.


The hairdressing workshop is a week of intense training done by the team of Terenzo Hairdressing Professionals. The centre receives a fully equipped salon that includes basins, chairs, mirrors, hair dryers, hair straighteners, brushes, combs and start up products.

Added Value Workshops/Self-Help Projects
Crocheting Workshops

Crocheting workshop enables care centres and homes to empower other community members to generate an income in a fun and trendy way.  Course members are taught the basics of crocheting, but individual creativity has led members to make many fashionable crocheting items.

The starter kit includes crochet wool and a needle, shoe soles and leather straps.


Clover Mama Afrika supports in supplying workshops and beading accessories to centres that are actively involved with beadwork.

Art workshop

A one-day art course was introduced in the Eastern Cape with five Mamas participating. The result was beyond any expectations and the Mamas were surprised at their own talent.  From the feedback received, it was unanimously decided to offer this course to all Mamas on a yearly basis during the Smarties Week event. Training facilitators are: Creative Heartz of Port Elizabeth and Arty Scarty of Pretoria.

This talent has proven to be a fun way to raise funds as well as therapeutic for the disabled in their care.

Vodacom Phone Shops and Mobile Public Phones

After a long-awaited feasibility study, Soweto and Ennerdale were each awarded a fully equipped Vodacom container comprising five telephone lines.  Besides providing the respective communities with telephone services, these containers also provide a source of income to the centres operating them. 

All other care centres countrywide have received a mobile public telephone that enables them to generate income and serves as a cheaper way of communication for the centre.

Save a Child – First Aid Course

This course is facilitated by St John’s Ambulance Services and has been implemented nationally.  It provides essential knowledge on what should be done in the event of minor burns, cuts, respiratory problems and other medical situations arising with young children. This project has come very useful to many centres and has since saved many lives.

Basic Finance Management

Due to the sustainable growth experienced with the skills implemented, it was evident that the Mamas needed guidance and assistance in managing these skills projects. It was also an opportunity to emphasise the importance of “Evaluation Process” in order for Clover Mama Afrika to maintain its prime objective of sustainable growth. Currently all skills training provided include basic business management and marketing sessions.