Andrea Coleman

Riders for Health
Year founded: 
United Kingdom

Riders for Health works to ensure that health workers in Africa have access to reliable transportation so that regular healthcare services can reach the most isolated people.

Focus: Health
Geographic Area of Impact: Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10.8 million (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 8,160,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 41.3% (2010)
Recognition: Schwab Fellows of the World Economic Forum

Currently, 22,000 children under the age of five die each day across the developing world from preventable or treatable diseases, including measles, diarrhoea and malaria. Every day during 2008, a thousand women died due to complications in pregnancy and child birth, over half in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to skilled healthcare personnel could reduce these deaths, but more than half of women in sub-Saharan Africa give birth alone or with untrained assistance. Often, the one factor preventing the delivery of healthcare is the lack of managed transportation. In many parts of Africa, there is limited motor vehicle maintenance that could ensure lasting and cost-efficient transportation of much needed supplies and aid.

It only takes a few hours to reach any capital in the world by plane, but it can entail days and much difficulty to reach the more rural areas in developing countries. Many development efforts often fail because distribution proves to be a neglected component. Food supplies, new drugs, vaccines and other critical health products are useless if they cannot reach their destination. Riders for Health addresses these delivery obstacles by managing vehicles to support organizations whose goal is to reach the rural poor in sub-Saharan Africa with healthcare and vital services.

Innovation and Activities
Riders for Health manages +1,000 vehicles involved in direct healthcare delivery. Its innovative transport systems incorporate driver training, daily maintenance, fuelling supply-chain logistics for replacement parts, and regular preventative maintenance. Outreach health workers mobilized by Riders for Health see three times the number of people they could without a Riders motorcycle, and can visit five times as many villages. This increased productivity represents better healthcare service delivery through increased frequency of interaction between health workers, communities and people needing healthcare. As a result, outreach health workers travelled more than 3.2 million kilometres in 2010 alone. A conservative estimate shows that 11 million people are better able to access healthcare thanks to Riders’ programmes.

The organization places great emphasis on building local capacity to manage and maintain its vehicles. This enables Riders to operate fleets of vehicles in the harshest conditions with a 0% breakdown rate for five years or longer. The system demonstrates that a properly managed vehicle will save more than 50% of costs over a six-year period, compared to an unmanaged vehicle.

Riders for Health currently operates on a national scale in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Gambia in full contractual partnership with their health ministries. It works on a sub-national scale with partner agencies (NGOs, UN agencies or community-based organizations) in Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.

The Entrepreneurs
Andrea and Barry Coleman met through a common interest in motorcycles. During several trips to Africa in the late 1980s, they encountered vehicles intended for healthcare delivery that were out of service due to a lack of preventive maintenance. They realized that the development community needed a special focus on vehicle management if any progress was to be made in the vital area of disease prevention and eradication in Africa. Andrea Coleman serves as Rider’s CEO and guides the financial and advocacy development, including innovative fundraising initiatives that enable organizational growth. Barry Coleman serves as Executive Director, and designs the groundbreaking Transport Resource Management and Transport Asset Management systems, as well as the Riders cost-per-kilometre calculator.