Medicine on the Move Financing

Development of the Triangular Sustainability Model




Since first coming to Ghana in 1994, Jonathan Porter – known as Captain Yaw – realized the many challenges of accessing rural areas of the region. He brought with him courage and dedication as well as a background in production, robotic engineering, computing, and aviation. 

In 2002, whilst working on a USAID project at Ghana’s Central Bank, the idea to establish a commercial company offering light aviation services, managing a rural airfield, flight training, engineering and maintenance, as well as building aircraft for rent and sale, grew. Services are mainly used by expatriates and developing middle-income status local Ghanaians. 

The concept included subsidisation through commercial income so that medical NGOs within Ghana would have available the use of these services for their humanitarian operations via a pro-rota-subsidised system ensuring affordability. After gaining necessary approvals in 2005, “WAASPS” – a name in which originated from the advocacy program to obtain those approvals – “West African Aviation Solutions Proposal” was born. Despite developing a dedicated airfield with international standard engineering facilities, specific bush flying training facilities, and a wide reaching awareness campaign, their humanitarian support opportunities were grounded due to the lack of qualified pilot volunteers and the in need agencies inability to grasp the concept.

In 2006 Jonathan’s son, Matthew Porter, faced death after a serious accident. At that time it became clear that they could no longer wait for organizations or pilots to approach them. If a flying doctor service was to be established – they had to do it themselves. “Medicine on the Move” was born as an independent NGO. 

Financial support is derived from the activities of WAASPS, donations, and symbiotic activities — Student and qualified pilots from the WAASPS Flight Training School combine their flight lessons and other air operations to reach communities, monitor projects, conduct photographic research, and perform air drops for the purpose of MoM’s humanitarian activities.

Aware that light aviation in West Africa is not yet sustainable as a stand-alone operation, the WAASPS further developed their portfolio by running the airfield, the flying school, and an engineering section. This portfolio is extending beyond aviation to include maritime repairs with a planned CNC robotics facility. Gathering expertise in engineering, the third circle in the step to solid sustainability, was evident and necessary. Unfortunately the majority of qualified West African engineers leave the region to seek greener pastures. Thus AvTech (Aviation Technology) Academy was formed. 

AvTech is a 100% non-profit training facility that currently offers training placements for up to four Ghanaian girls, per year, from the rural areas. During their four-year course these girls will obtain skills in aviation, engineering, first aid, and a range of skills needed not only by WAASPS, but also by Medicine on the Move. A small contribution is asked from the students to cover accommodation, food, and some materials, whilst the vast majority of the training expenses are covered by WAASPS. 

This triangular sustainability model is the key for the success of self-sustained development by West Africans for West Africans. The organizations rely on each other for their success. 

MoM’s future Academy students are being inspired as well as recruited. Once qualified, they in turn will contribute to the villages by servicing and staffing the MoM operations in the field. WAASPS’ customers also contribute with the knowledge that their flight lessons and other services provided by WAASPS are supporting the self-development of West Africans beyond just meeting their needs. The villages in need and the AvTech students gain the reward without costing the commercial client any extra. 

Lydia Wetsi is a classic example of how this system works. Through the activities of WAASPS, Lydia was found and recruited to AvTech. She is learning a wide range of skills that she will use to reach back into the very communities that she originated from, whilst working with Medicine on the Move as a volunteer. AvTech employees and students, as well as all WAASPS employees, give their time working as volunteers to ensure the positive impact of Medicine on the Move. 

MoM is changing lives, one flight at a time.