Riders For Health Co-Founder Wins Women Of The Year Award

Press Release | October 18, 2013

The following is from Rider’s for Health…

Riders for Health’s co-founder and CEO, Andrea Coleman, has been named as the winner of the Women of the Year Award sponsored by Barclays today.

You can read an interview with Andrea in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday by clicking here.

Andrea founded Riders for Health in 1990 with Barry Coleman. Since then Andrea has been a driving force behind the organization’s work revolutionizing African transport infrastructure and health systems.

Andrea said, ‘I cannot describe how it feels to be named one of the ‘Women of the Year’. When I think of the many marvelous, brave, clever, stoical, women I meet in my work I realize just how lucky I am to be in a position to win this award. Women living in isolated, rural Africa are trapped by ill health, poverty and distance. They can never even dream that what they do will ever be seen let alone recognized. I am lucky. I have had that opportunity.

‘Riders for Health makes sure that the heroes of health care – the front line health workers – use well managed motorcycles to reach millions of people with the health care they need, reliably and predictably. I am proud that our work is helping to give at least some of those women freedom from the tyrannies of poverty and distance.

‘Barry created the practical approach to establishing a repeatable, standardized, systematic solution to the seemingly intractable problem of running vehicles in harsh conditions. He saw it as blindingly obvious. I have spent 25 years getting the a light to shine on this innovation, gathering an organization around it and finding the money to make it happen. We have done well as a partnership to get this movement so far.’

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, President of Women of the Year, said: ‘Andrea is a very worthy and inspirational recipient of this Women of the Year award. Riders for Health has improved access to regular health care for millions of people across Africa. Through sheer hard work and determination, she has translated her life-long passion as a motorcyclist into a successful award winning program in sub-Saharan Africa.’

Antony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive of Barclays, who presented Andrea with the award at today’s lunch said: ‘It is an honor and a pleasure to be able to recognize Andrea for the incredible work she has done through Riders for Health, using an innovative business model to address a global problem and promote sustainable development.  She is truly a pioneer and we wish her every success in her future endeavors.

Barclays is proud to be a longstanding supporter of the Women of the Year and celebrate the achievements of extraordinary women – both the well-known and the many unsung heroes – from across all sectors of business and society.’

In 1979 Andrea’s first husband, Tom Herron, died as a result of a motorcycle racing accident. Barry Coleman had been a good friend of Tom’s and after his death, and the waste of his life, they left the motorcycling community for a few years. However, their lifetime of experience and knowledge of the motorcycle world proved too much of a draw, and Andrea and Barry began working on a project that would show how motorcycles could save lives, not waste lives.

Andrea and Barry decided to take action following several trips to rural African communities that they had been supporting via charitable donations and fundraising. A keen motorcyclist from a family of engineers, Andrea was struck by the face that women and children in rural villages were not receiving the health care they needed, but the vehicles health workers needed had broken down. Andrea and Barry couldn’t comprehend how something as fundamental as vehicle maintenance was being overlooked in development, finding it absurd that aid was being blocked by this inability to make it across the ‘last mile’.

Andrea used her long experience and knowledge of the motorcycling community to devise an innovative fundraising strategy to support the development of Riders for Health field programs. These programs train local health workers to maintain motorcycles, ride and drive, enabling them to carry out their jobs properly and deliver healthcare to those in need. Thanks to Andrea’s commitment and ingenuity, Riders for Health now operates across seven African countries in partnership with local hospitals and clinics, ministries of health and NGOs.

The charity has created thousands of new jobs, equipping people with transferable skills and stimulating growth in communities across Africa.

The winners were selected by a judging panel. President and Chair of Women of the Year, Baroness Kennedy and Teresa Graham, were joined by a terrific line-up of judges including: Ann Cotton OBE, Founder and President of Camfed and former Women of the Year award winner; Rt Hon Dame Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood; Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook and Dianne Thompson, Group CEO, Camelot.

Every one of the 400 guests at the Lunch is recognized as a ‘Woman of the Year’, and is celebrated for their achievements and contribution to society. They represent not only themselves but the millions of extraordinary women who make a difference every day.

The 2013 Women of the Year Lunch is sponsored by Barclays, Good Housekeeping, Sacla’ and ITV’s Lorraine.


By Press Release