ACCRA, Ghana — Over the past several years, Bernice Dapaah has been making a positive difference in Ghana on multiple fronts through the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative. As the name indicates, the initiative builds bikes out of bamboo and then donates them to those who need to get to school or work. Many children in Ghana had to walk considerable distances just to get to school, but the bikes serve a practical purpose by providing them with a more efficient means of transportation.
Manufacturing the bamboo bikes also benefits the environment in multiple ways. According to the initiative’s website, building bike frames from bamboo as opposed to steel can decrease carbon emissions by as much as 70 percent. Furthermore, the initiative practices sustainability of resources by planting bamboo plants to replace those that they use.
The proliferation of bamboo is itself beneficial to the environment. Presenting bamboo as an alternative material to wood takes the burden off of Ghana’s forests, which have been in decline. Additionally, bamboo consumes carbon dioxide, thus improving water and air quality, and its roots reduce soil erosion. The characteristically rapid growth of bamboo also means that planting bamboo will provide quick results.
In addition to being more environmentally friendly than steel, bamboo is sturdy. The bikes have undergone successful tests on rough terrain, and taking into consideration the weight ratio, the bamboo bikes are actually stronger than steel ones.
The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative has a positive economic impact. The initiative has its own Bamboo Bike Academy that offers a 200-hour course on how to build and maintain the bicycles. People who otherwise might not have a job can work for the initiative or other bike businesses. People who complete the course can teach skills to other people and start their own production bases.
Dapaah has put an emphasis on finding employment for women within her production team, and the initiative is actually led by women. Dapaah stated that she wants to provide opportunities for women to be independent via her initiative.
The initiative has been gaining worldwide attention. In 2012, the initiative received the World Business and Development Award. The following year, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative gained recognition at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference where it won UNFCCC Momentum for Change Women for Results Award, and where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon himself took a ride on one of the bikes.
Hopefully, with their increasing worldwide exposure, the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative will be able to continue scaling up their operations and increase the scope of its impact.
– Edmond Kim