A young social entrepreneur in Kumasi, southern Ghana is building bike frames out of bamboo grown right in the region, as AJ+ reports. The idea was born while Bernice Dapaah was pursuing a degree in Business Administration. She decided that, rather than chase down one of the few white collar jobs available in the city, she would start her own business in order to create opportunities for other young people.
“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,” Dapaah told AJ+. “We wanted to come up with an idea that would also create employment for other youth.”
Dapaah’s company, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, has already employed and trained 35 people, and she has plans to expand further. “We’re engaging women on board to see how best they can do something on their own, rather than being at home looking after their husband,” she said. She has plans to open two more workshops in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana, with hopes of employing 50 more young people.
The Initiative involves harvesting local bamboo to build durable, sustainable bike frames. Bamboo bike frames are increasing in popularity for their strength, unique aesthetic, and the significant reduction in energy involved in their manufacturing process. For the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative, they have the added benefit of being grown right in the backyard. On top of using one of the world’s most sustainable materials to begin with, the Initiative also ensures the crops they’re using will be replenished by planting 10 new bamboo plants for every one they cut down.
To continue to give back to her community, Dapaah also donates bicycles to children around Kumasi. “I can remember when we were in school, we couldn’t get the chance to go to school early,” she told AJ+. “We were always late, which was distracting our academic performances.”
Dapaah’s bikes are causing quite a stir in Ghana and beyond. The bikes sell for around $120, providing people in the region with sustainable, affordable transportation. Since launching the initiative, Dapaah has received international recognition for changing the face of transportation in Ghana. She also sells the bike internationally, with customers in the US, Europe, and beyond.
To learn more about the Bamboo Bikes Initiative, check out their website or follow them on Twitter.
Hilary Angus is the Online Editor at Momentum Mag. @HilaryAngus