Skoll Foundation


Riders for Health

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Andrea and Barry Coleman
Award Year: 2006
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Healthcare Access and Treatment

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Andrea and Barry Coleman share a passion for motorcycles. Andrea is a former racer and Barry is a successful journalist and author. Through the racing world, they became involved in fundraising for children in Africa. In 1988, on a visit to Somalia, Barry was unable to reach his destination because his car broke down. That day, he noticed broken vehicles everywhere. On a later trip, he and Andrea saw women in childbirth being carried to the hospital in wheelbarrows. Frustrated that aid agencies abandoned vehicles rather than making basic repairs, the Colemans remortgaged their house and founded Riders for Health (Riders) in 1996 to provide practical solutions to transportation problems in Africa.


  • Riders has improved health care access for 12 million people across Africa. They do this by ensuring health workers and health facilities have access to reliable vehicles to carry out their work effectively, so that communities across Africa receive regular, reliable health care.
  • A Stanford University Graduate School of Business, 2½ year randomized control trial on the work of Riders for Health in Southern Province, Zambia showed that:
    • Health workers can travel an average of 10km further on every trip and can make longer trips more frequently
    • Motorcycles managed by Riders for Health were available 50% more often than ones run by the ministry of health
    • Environmental health technicians (EHTs) used their motorcycles 21% more often when they were managed by Riders for Health
    • An EHT with a Riders for Health managed motorcycle could make four more health visits a month, and see 30 more people each visit
    • Motorcycles run by Riders for Health operated at equal cost-per-kilometre to the government, as well as having significantly better performance
  • They assisted the Ebola international response and are talking to ministries of health about how reliable transport can help build stronger, sustainable health systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, Riders for Health has been invited by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to assist in creating a system for delivering medical samples from holding and treatment facilities to laboratories. The system will aim to remove a lack of reliable transport as a barrier to quick diagnosis of Ebola cases.
  • A mobilized outreach health worker can see nearly six times more people. This means they can monitor disease burdens effectively and ensure that more communities know about prevention and control. They can also offer an important link between rural communities and a health facility.
  • In one year, Riders’ motorcycle couriers collect and deliver over 400,000 patient medical samples and test results between health centres and laboratories. With a quicker diagnosis, patients can be put on the right course of treatment much earlier helping them to lead healthy lives.
  • In Lesotho, its motorcycle courier service has cut the time taken for test results to be returned to health centres by over half. Sample Transport speeds up the transportation of patient diagnostic samples and test results between health centers and laboratories so that patients can be diagnosed more quickly for life-threatening diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis (TB) and put on the necessary treatment.
  • Mobilized outreach health workers can double the time they spend in communities, and can reach nearly four times further, as they spend less time travelling when they have reliable transportation. Even the most isolated areas can have equal access to health care services.
  • 2.9 million extra people interact with health professionals each year.
  • In 2012, Riders helped increase the proportion of fully immunized infants in the Gambia (62% pre Riders, 73% post Riders), and decrease malaria deaths in Zimbabwe (21% decline in region served by motorcycles and supported by Riders, compared with a 44% increase in neighboring region).
  • Operates in seven African countries: The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and employs 300 people.
  • In 2011 in the Gambia, three times more patients were referred from health centres to hospitals by Riders-managed ambulances. Ambulance referrals not only mean quicker and safer transportationbut they also mean better quality of care in transit as a nurse will accompany the patient.
  • Riders for Health-the Gambia (RFH) and the British High Commission Office in Banjul co-financed the establishment a Training/Resource Center which opened January 2013. It will serve as a classroom for the formal training of drivers, riders and technicians as well as a documentation center for road traffic matters in the country.
  • Riders dramatically increases the number of health workers that can be kept mobile on a given budget. In one area of Zimbabwe, there are 90 percent more health workers using vehicles.
  • A non-profit vehicle-leasing model in partnership with the Skoll Foundation. This macro-finance model meets the needs of African ministries of health. The model works in the Gambia, enabling the Ministry of Health to reach the entire population of 1.7 million with its public health services, including maternal health, immunisation and distribution of bed nets.
  • A professional motorcycle courier service, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, to ensure rapid, reliable and cost-effective logistics for samples (specimens) between clinics and laboratories. Now adopted on a national scale in Lesotho, it has significantly improved the take-up of antiretroviral drugs by women and children of the countries concerned.
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