The Bamboo Bikes | Ghana

The Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative addresses climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and youth unemployment by creating jobs for young people, especially women, through the building of high quality bamboo bicycles. Compared to the production of traditional metal bicycles, bamboo bikes require less electricity and no hazardous chemicals. Not only are the bikes light and stable, they can handle rough terrain and can carry large farm loads and passengers. The initiative has support from the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

Fast facts

  • 30 jobs created (20 bike assemblers and 10 farmers);
  • Bamboo trees that are not cut to produce bike frames help sequester carbon dioxide;
  • Growing bamboo helps prevent soil erosion and improves water and air quality.
Ghana bikes-resized

The problem

Although Ghana is rich in physical, cultural and intellectual resources, it is also a country with traffic congestion, environmental degradation, a stark urban-rural divide, low-employment and poverty.

The Bamboo Bikes activity was started by, and continues to be led by, a young female entrepreneur. It promotes sustainable development, boosts trade, creates employment opportunities for women and addresses a number of United Nations Millennium Development Goals in the process.

Riding towards sustainable development

The increased cultivation and use of bamboo as an alternative to wood helps preserve and rehabilitate Ghana’s dwindling forests.  

Bamboo improves air and water quality in areas where it is harvested. Additionally, its root system reduces soil erosion, which is a major concern for many farmers. The construction of bamboo bikes is much less energy intensive than production of steel bikes; producing a steel bicycle frame emits about 5 kg of CO2. 

Empowering communities

The activity, propelled by women’s leadership, is improving the lives of many rural Ghanaians, women in particular, not only by delivering a sustainable and affordable form of transportation that satisfies local needs, but also by creating employment opportunities and stimulating economic growth.

The woman-led Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative trains people, especially women, with little or no education in the manufacturing and assembling of bamboo bikes. Producing stable, cheaper and reliable bikes in Ghana is helping the country reduce its dependence on fossil fuels while increasing economic opportunities for rural Ghanaians. The activity has created 30 jobs (10 jobs for farmers and 20 jobs for bamboo bike assemblers). Building capacity and creating employment opportunities is reducing poverty in Ghana’s rural communities.

Ghana Bamboo Bikes

Spillover effect

Bamboo bike making technology has been transferred to two other communities, employing 25 rural women who sell the frames to the Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative’s supply chain. The Initiative is talking to investors and potential funders to scale up the project, both in size and impact. Organizers aim to build bikes – in Ghana, by Ghanaians, for Ghana – in the thousands.

Each artisan, after their training, will be equipped to employ at least five or six people, and to set up their own small-scale production base in any part of the country. As part of its scaling-up strategy, the Initiative plans to establish a bamboo plantation to support climate mitigation.

Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.