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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Thoughts From A Young Female Ghanaian Entrepreneur Who Builds Bikes From Bamboo

Meet Winifred Selby, 20 year old female entrepreneur from Ghana, who co-started Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative when she was just 15. Her company makes bicycles out of bamboo, a need she decided to meet after observing students walk long miles to school and farmers walking long distances with heavy loads, just to get their goods to the market.

Her words: “But I was 15, a student, and didn't have any money. I can’t make cars – they are too expensive. But I kept thinking, what can I do to add value to bring a change in Africa? And then I realised what to do because I remembered my country is blessed with many things.” One is bamboo which Ghana has an abundance of. So with the help of two older students, Bernice Dapaah and Kwame Kyei, discovered they could convert the bamboo into sturdy, shock-resistant bicycle frames. And so the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative was born.

The company employs around a dozen people, produces between 60 and 100 bicycles a month, and has provided hundreds with a means of transportation. Her bikes have also found a large export market and received some international recognition. In November 2013 UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon took a ride on one of Selby’s bikes at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference.

Selby believes it is important for entrepreneurs to draw inspiration and courage from their own dreams and passions, rather than simply rely on the support of others. “There were so many friends who laughed when they heard about the bamboo bike idea. Some people will definitely discourage you, but one thing I’ve realised in life is that you have to be focused,” she added. “People never understand your journey because it is not theirs to understand.”

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