Who we are

  • Overview
  • How we work
  • Background

The problem:

Among the very many serious problems faced and endured in rural Africa is the almost total failure of ordinary mechanical transport. This becomes a problem because of the central nature of transport in health care. Transport is a “means to an end”, it gives value (or usefulness) to products and services for it takes them to where they are needed most hence valuable. An effective drug in a warehouse does not have value; it is becomes valuable when it is administered to a person in need, who may be in last mile. Without reliable transport for health services to reach the last mile, for example, some of the following things happen:

Infants fail to be immunised and suffer or die from elementary diseases that were long ago conquered in the developed world.

Women in threatening labour fail to receive help or to be taken to a facility (maternal mortality is scandalously high in Africa).

Diseases break out and spread like wildfire before they can be controlled.

Testing for conditions such as HIVAIDS and TB can take so long that the patient dies before the result is even known. Probably also infecting other people and the cycle can continue.

The solution:

Though mechanical vehicles such as motorcycles and trucks are bought to support health in Africa there is no automatic support infrastructure for maintenance in rural Africa. So beginning in 1989 the team that would become Riders began to work out and to pioneer systems that would enable those cars, trucks and motorcycles to work as well and as cost-effectively in rural and some cities in Africa as the do anywhere in the developed world.

The results, the impact upon community health are often staggering. Now, no child immunisation clinic in the Gambia is ever cancelled because of transport failure. The child immunisation rate in the Gambia is about 97%. All pregnant women in danger are referred, by ambulance, to a suitable facility.

In Lesotho, anyone tested for HIV, however remote the clinic, with get a result within six days. Before Riders, it was often up to three months.

In Liberia , any suspected sample of the Ebola virus known as a “priority sample” from anywhere in the country will now be tested with results quickly known across the four laboratories in the country. There will be no more surprise outbreaks.

Riders for Health Liberia has been transporting an average of 3500 samples/monthreaching a peak of a 5053 samples/month during the heightened Ebola surveillance. Before Riders 75% of the samples took more than 24 hours to reach laboratories, with Riders for Health involvement an average of 78% of samples arrive at laboratories within 24 hrs utilising a new innovative relay system to respond to the large distances.

There are Riders programmes doing vital work in Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Liberia , Nigeria and the Gambia.

Riders International has an effective replication team formed up of African experts of Riders system with many years of experience which can replicate the Riders system in any country or in any project of any size. This makes this tried-and-tested Riders system available to be used anywhere in rural Africa and perhaps beyond. Recently this team replicated Riders system in less than two months in Liberia for the fight against Ebola

Riders is built on skills transfer within Africa. We train nationals of the countries in which we work through mentorship and supervision using among other concepts, the communities of practice, apprenticeships and shadowing. This isto enable the transfer of core skills and embedding of a maintenance cultureto buildlocal capacity.Riders programmes now employ about 900 men and women across all programs, from apprentices to highly experienced programme leaders

Depending with the nature of the partnerships and the operations engagements in the country programs, our programmes are led by nationals of the countries concerned. Recently, this principle has been naturally extended to incorporate an international, pan-African component. Our senior policy-making body is our management council, which consists of the leadership of each of the programmes. Our guiding principles are: a collaborative approach, an enterprising approach and the use of practical, appropriate, cost-effective solutions. We are innovative but no longer experimental. Our systems work, all the time.

Riders’ system is unique; we are able to manage and maintain transport systems used in health care delivery from end to end – from the upfront planning and budgeting down to the retirement/replacement of the vehicle. Riderscan do this as we have human and intellectual capital of over25 years’ experience of Riders work in Africa using innovative thinking for the sole purpose of managing vehicle fleets used in health systems – with a special focus on the ‘last mile’. We have the experience of engaging in true public-private partnerships with governments who see the benefit in outsourcing non-core services. Our main partners are ministries of health (MoHs), but in addition include UN agencies, US government agencies, and other health-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Riders grew out of a humanitarian impulse from within the worldwide motorcycle community – as our name suggests!

At first it was a matter of raising money for a good cause because a young American motorcycle racer, Randy Mamola, saw a chance to help. Soon it became clear that there was another kind of work to be done, and Randy and his lifelong friends, Barry and Andrea Coleman, began thinking about how to build a new kind of organisation. Randy worked on building support in the racing community, Andrea concentrated on telling the world about the old need and the new initiative, and Barry began developing large-scale vehicle support systems with the African colleagues who wereattracted to the work. The pilot Riders system was in place in Lesotho in 1991, followed by national operations in Zimbabwe (1993) and Nigeria (1999). The Gambia (2002), Kenya (2007), Malawi (2011) and, most recently, Liberia (2015) were added in turn.

Riders has been extremely generously supported by many expert funding bodies, including the Skoll Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Breadsticks, the World Health Organisation, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, The Elton John Foundation, VPF and many more. Without this support, there would have been no Riders.

In 2015, Riders, with the help of some of its long-term supporters, recognised that the established management structure had become less effective and costly. The review of the structures began to take place in the first months of 2016.

To complete this process and continue to support the need in programmes for new innovations and expanding to new countries and working in close cooperation with Riders International, a new fund-raising entity was created led by Andrea and Barry Coleman, with a particular emphasis on the traditional (and first) funding partner – the international motorcycle sport community. This body, supported by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme and Dorna Deportivo is called Two Wheels for Life. For more information about Two Wheels for Life click here