By Paul Ndiho
A start-up firm, Boomers International, a bicycle production company in Kumasi, Ghana is generating a lot of interest and is rapidly becoming the leading producer of bamboo bicycles in West Africa.People are likely to ask, “What kind of bike is that?” And the answer is… It’s a Bamboo Bike -, an improved version that was first unveiled in 2009. For those who dare to be bold, this Bamboo bike has a striking design – one that commands attention. Voice of America was recently given exclusive, behind the scenes access, so let’s take it for a road test.
Started under the Yonso Project, a grassroots community-development organization, Boomers International is making its mark on the international market. The company is located in the Ashanti region of Ghana, and it specializes in producing bamboo-framed bicycles which are exported to countries around the world. Kwabena Danso is the CEO of Boomers International.
“We currently sell a lot on the international market, we are marketed in Germany, through a company called my Boo, we also market in Holland through a company called Forester Bikes, it actually started because of us. They actually set up the company just to distribute our product…and we also have another company in Australia called Ethical Wheels.”
Bicycles made from bamboo have been around for more than a century, but the demand has only increased in recent years. Today, Boomers international is seizing the opportunity to make use of this abundant, natural resource and the company is investing in the sustainability and the development of the local communities.
“For every bike that is sold, a child in the rural area also gets education, so we are trying to promote education, support rural community development through education, empower these children in the rural communities by the sales of our bikes.” Said Danso
John Marfo, head of the technical team at Boombers International, says he’s proud to work for the company.
“I feel very happy because without this company, I never thought I would be at even that place, or people would be interested in me that way. So I am very happy working with this company.
Some other apprentices have had the pleasure of being trained by Danso, who has given them the skills they need to build eco-friendly bicycles.
“I take the inventory here, and give them the necessary tools they need to do the job.”
Kwabena Danso says bamboo is the ideal crop to work with, it can be sustainably harvested and grows fast, without needing pesticides. The process requires the bamboo to be dried for six months and reinforced with carbon fiber. All of the bicycles are handmade, which is reflected in the price tag.
“This is a complete assembled bike made in Ghana here, by Boomers International Limited. As you can see, this is the frame. All these frames are made of bamboo, and this is the fork, the steer, and we’ve also provide a light in case you are riding in the evening or at night.”
Boomers international is already planning to expand the brand to sell on the local market. Bike analysts say Ghana’s fast growing population and rapid urban development means there are more cars on the roads, but having locally manufactured bikes could ease the crush of people using public transportation.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:email@example.com, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho