What We Do And Why

Mentor Mothers in Thyolo, Malawi

Mentor Mother holding a group session in Pretoria, South Africa

Peer Mentors holding a group session in Soshanguve Clinic, South Africa

An Early Childhood Development Mentor Mother with a client and her baby in Dvokolwako, Eswatini

m2m client and her baby in Nelspruit, South Africa

Mentor Mother with m2m client and baby in Pretoria, South Africa

Early Childhood Development Mentor Mother playing with a group of children in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Mentor Mother sitting with two nurses outside a health facility in Thyolo, Malawi

The Challenge

Africa’s health systems are under tremendous strain. According to the World Health Organization, the continent has a shortage of 4.2 million healthcare workers, and by 2030 that figure will increase to 6.1 million. As a result, there are significant challenges to ensuring those who need healthcare can access services, remain in care, and adhere to their treatment.

This is a major contributor to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa where almost 400 children are infected with HIV each day, and around 6,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected globally each week, the majority of whom live in the region. Other factors include HIV-related stigma and discrimination still prevalent in many African communities, and a lack of accurate health information. Meanwhile, maternal and child mortality rates remain high – usually attributable to entirely preventable causes.

Addressing Africa’s healthcare gap is critical to meeting the Global Goal of eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030 and UNAIDS targets pertaining to testing, treatment, and viral suppression. To this end, the African Union has called for two million more community health workers to be deployed across the continent by 2020. Failure to meet this challenge will continue to limit Africa’s socio-economic development.


What We Do and Why

mothers2mothers (m2m) is bolstering African healthcare systems, while delivering empowerment opportunities for women. We train and employ women living with HIV as community health workers. These “Mentor Mothers” work in local communities and at understaffed health facilities to ensure that women and their families get the health advice and medication they need, are linked to the right clinical services, and are supported on their treatment journey.

The employment enables Mentor Mothers to gain financial security for themselves and their families. By virtue of being professionalised, Mentor Mothers become role models, putting a face to empowered, strong, and healthy HIV-positive women, and thereby helping to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

Started in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001 with an initial focus on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, m2m has innovated and built on our strengths to address HIV’s causes and effects, delivering benefits at almost all stages of life. m2m Mentors now provide family-centred support for a range of related health and social issues spanning pregnancy, birth, childhood, and adolescence. We also partner with governments and other NGOs on the adoption of our programme to spread the Mentor Mother Model and its benefits.

Our Impact

Our work has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, created thousands of jobs, and given health and hope to some of the most marginalised in communities across ten African countries.

We have a track record of scaling our services and proven impact, as demonstrated in m2m’s 2017 Annual Evaluation. Highlights include:


Since we began in 2001, m2m has reached over 11M women and children under two years old. 


In 2017, m2m and our partners served 1 in 6 of the world’s HIV-positive pregnant women.


Among the clients we serve directly, m2m has contributed to the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV for the fourth year in a row. UNAIDS considers virtual elimination a transmission rate of 5% or below—the average MTCT rate among our enrolled clients is just 1.3%.


We reached 23% more women, children and families directly in 2018, than in 2017. 


0.12% of the HIV-negative pregnant women supported by a Mentor Mother contracted HIV, 30 times lower than a 2014 pan-African benchmark of 3.6%.


Since we were created in 2001, m2m has created over 10,000 jobs for HIV-positive women as community health workers in sub-Saharan Africa. 


Contributing to Global Goals

m2m and our Mentor Mother Model advances 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that most directly affect women and children’s health, development, and economic security. m2m also contributes to UNAIDS targets to ensure people are tested, people testing positive for HIV receive treatment, and people placed on treatment get the best outcomes.

If you would like to discuss a partnership with m2m, please email: info@m2m.org.