Vodafone Foundation expanding the ‘Ambulance Taxi’ programme in US$28m investment


Vodafone Foundation will channel US$28 million to expand the M-mama ‘ambulance taxi’ programme beyond the Tanzania border. The programme is aiming for Lesotho and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The expansion into Lesotho will be a joint venture between the foundation (US$4.5 million) and Lesotho’s government via the Ministry of Health. Lesotho ranks very poorly in maternal mortality and this programme aspires to save 200 lives within the next four years.

Part of a statement shared by Joakim Reiter, the Chief External & Corporate Affairs Officer Vodafone Group read, “Our long-term investment of US$28 million to expand m-mama within sub-Saharan Africa will save the lives of thousands of women through an emergency service that governments can afford to sustain.” 

In another statement, Hon. Motlatsi Maqelepo, Lesotho’s Minister for Health said, “The Government of Lesotho is proud to partner with Vodafone Foundation on this groundbreaking project to save the lives of thousands of women and children from maternal deaths in Lesotho.”

M-mama is an innovative emergency transport system relying on mobile money and mobile technology through M-Pesa that helps reduce the neonatal and maternity rates.

In Tanzania, the programme provides a 24/7 toll-free number where expectant mothers call center where women with pregnancy complications or newborns can be accessed by a fleet of over 100 ambulance taxis. Local taxi drivers are given special training on how best to handle the transportation of obstetric emergencies. The driver is contacted through the M-mama mobile app and payment is done via M-Pesa once she safely arrives at the hospital.

Successes of M-mama programme

  • Reduced maternal mortality in the region by 27% in areas of implementation.
  • Transported over 8800 women who are at high risk of pregnancy and 1,950 newborns to the hospital during the five years of operation.
  • Saved the lives of 500 women who needed emergency services.
  • The programme expansion can save thousands of pregnant women and children in Lesotho in four years.

Vodafone Foundation and Vodafone Group have built solid credentials in their commitment to the support of maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa. The group has thus far invested over $20 into philanthropy.


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