Bikes for Africa changing health care

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Andrea Coleman bought her first motorcycle six months before her 16th birthday, all she wanted to do was escape her “funny little suburb” outside London. Now, almost 50 years later, she is being credited with using motorcycles to revolutionise Africa’s transport and health systems. The mother- of-three will receive the Barclays Women of the Year award at the 59th annual Women of the Year Lunch on 16 October.

Coleman is not your usual global health pioneer. She left school at 16 and did not sit an academic exam until her forties. She gained notoriety in Britain in the early 1970s as one of only a few female motorcycle racers but now, she wants us to “rethink the way we are going to do development”.

She said: “Too much of it has been, ’I really don’t like the way you have to live, so I am going to raise all this money and give you this thing.’

People are listening. Coleman’s plans to found a social enterprise blossomed after she swapped the race tracks for sub-Saharan Africa’s dirt tracks in the late 1980s and saw how broken-down vehicles were preventing women from accessing health care. She realised that maintaining fleets of motorcycles in the region could change lives.

Riders for Health, founded with her husband Barry Coleman, employs 400 staff worldwide and operates 1700 vehicles across seven countries in Africa, transforming health care for 14 million people.

Source: IOL (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health, social enterprise