A young social entrepreneur in Ghana is making waves by building bicycles from bamboo which she grows in her hometown of Kumasi, southern Ghana.
Just six years ago, Bernice Dapaah was pursuing a degree in Business Administration when she decided to branch out on her own and start the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, reported AJ .
“There’s a lot of unemployment in the country and we didn’t want to just follow the masses and look for white-collar jobs. We wanted to come up with an idea that would also create employment for other youth,” said the young entrepreneur.
Bamboo is fast-growing, produces up to 35% more oxygen than other trees and helps to prevent soil erosion, a significant cause of concern for farmers in Ghana. Bernice Dapaah, Executive Director of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative and co-founders Kwame Kyei and Winifred Selby have trained more than 35 people to make the bikes. It’s an idea so brilliant the team won a Seed award in 2010, just six months after their first prototype, and have since gone on to win other awards internationally, along with the financial assistance.
It takes about 40 hours to build one custom bike and there are three main steps in constructing a full bamboo bicycle. First, the bamboo must be cut to size to increase its strength and resistance to damage. Second, the bamboo is mitered and assembled into a bicycle frame on a jig and bound together with resin and sisal fiber. Finally, after a period for drying, the manufactured components are fitted onto the bamboo frame.
The bikes are sold as far as United States, Japan, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali, Turkey, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Nigeria, and Belgium. They are mainly used by individuals for personal use. The Initiative sells bikes through direct marketing and by identifying independent bicycle distributors who subsequently distribute the bikes on their behalf.
The bike itself is not only affordable and environmentally friendly (reduces carbon emissions by up to 70%), but the frame is also recyclable. Dapaah points out that bamboo is also five times stronger than steel and the construction of bamboo bikes uses less energy than conventional steel bikes.
The bikes are priced at $120 each. In addition, Dapaah also donates bikes to school children in Kumasi.
Ten more bamboo trees are planted for every plant cut down.
Today, bamboo bikes are reportedly gaining popularity in Ghana and the surrounding countries in West Africa.
More than 1 000 bikes have been sold in Ghana and to Europe and the US.
Watch the video by AJ here: