Good news out of Africa - Ghana Bamboo Bikes
Creating jobs in rural Ghana whilst benefiting the environment
In a new monthly series, First Car Rental will be showcasing the entrepreneurial spirit coming out of Africa.
These articles will showcase individuals, communities and small businesses in Africa that through earth-friendly, community-orientated initiatives, are making the world a better place.
First up is the non-profit Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative.
About Ghana Bamboo Bikes
Seven years ago, Ghanian university graduate, Bernice Dapaah, decided against joining her fellow graduates in the almost-futile search for a job in the depressed Ghanian economy. Instead, she joined forces with a handful of engineering students to find an innovative, sustainable and environmentally-friendly solution to the poverty facing Ghana's Bamboo farmers and youth.
And so, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative was born.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes is a social enterprise based in Kumasi, southern Ghana, where strong, lightweight and durable bikes are being manufactured out of bamboo and built by an ever-growing team of young people specially trained for the role. The bamboo bikes are sold locally, and are also exported to the US and Europe.
The initiative has impressive green credentials: not only are the bikes an affordable, environmentally-sound transport alternative, but bamboo is fast-growing, produces up to 35% more oxygen than other trees, and helps to prevent soil erosion, a big problem in Ghana.
Unlike steel and carbon fibre bikes, bamboo bikes require significantly less electricity to produce, and are easily recycled. Bamboo is also five times stronger than steel - in China they use it for scaffolding.
Currently, Ghana Bamboo Bikes employs 35 people to make the bikes and is in the process of establishing two new factories in rural Ghana that will employ a further 50 young people. The idea is that each employee, once trained, can train and employ five or six others, meaning the bikes can be produced on a small scale all over Ghana.
Says Dapaah, "My favourite part of the job is when I go to the workshop to see our youth and know they are able to earn a living. I feel so happy when I see we have been able to create a bit of laughter for them."
To find out more, visit the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative website here.