Bamboo Bikes Initiative is a social enterprise industrializing bamboo through the production of bamboo bicycles. Chief Executive Officer Bernice Dapaah, a Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) Cohort 1 entrepreneur, in this article shares how her company arrived at internationally acceptable quality in standards of bikes produced through the GCIC Peer Exchange Program. She writes:
In order to successfully sell our company’s products on both local and foreign markets, we knew it was crucial to meet the new International Quality Standard (ISO 4210:2014). With our products being handmade, it was going to be difficult to control the production process which was critical if we sought to meet the afore-mentioned standards. It became necessary that we got in touch with some experts who could give us more insight into the standardization process and help us find solutions to our challenge.
Based on this, I, on behalf of my company, applied to Ghana Climate Innovation Centre for a grant. Through the Peer Exchange Program, I got the opportunity to visit EFBE Test Technology, Germany, where I interacted with experts in the bamboo production field and visited production and testing spots.
In the days spent at the organization, my hosts shared some inspiring and thought-provoking concepts with me, and I received smart and forward-looking ideas for the expansion of our company.
While offering advice on the production process, my host was also kind enough to give me some pointers on how to meet all required international standards easily. Our bamboo frames were put to rigorous modern test standards and their relative performance, both in ideal settings and in service when used by our customers, was assessed.
Among other things, I gained more knowledge about the role of testing and test equipment in Quality Control of bamboo bike frame manufacturing and learnt how to identify which items or test equipment may be appropriate for use in Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative (GBBI). Finally, I learnt simple tests or measures that could be taken to reduce the risk of producing substandard finished frames.
It has only been a few weeks after the program, and I am already blown away by the amount of value that has been added to our company. The process control points learnt have enabled GBBI to improve its product quality and reduce product variation, and the company has implemented new techniques that guarantee the production of sturdy bikes for our clients.
From a personal perspective, I found the Peer Exchange Program transformational. It taught me a lot, challenged my thinking, and was a golden opportunity to learn from the best and enhance my work. I believe opportunities like this can play a powerful role in supporting and retaining young businesses, and I would highly recommend it to all entrepreneurs. Overall, the Peer Exchange Program has been a game changer in the existence and growth of my company, and we are forever grateful to GCIC for such an opportunity.
By Bernice Dapaah,
CEO of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative.
About the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre
The Ghana Climate Innovation Centre is a pioneering business incubator with a unique focus of developing SME ventures and entrepreneurs in Ghana’s ‘Green Economy’. Our mission is to develop and support an exceptional set of transformational ventures and entrepreneurs who are pioneering adaptive and mitigating solutions for climate change issues in Ghana.
GCIC is funded by a grant from the Governments of Denmark and the Netherlands through the World Bank, and is managed by a consortium led by Ashesi University, and including Ernst and Young, SNV Ghana and the United Nations University. The Consortium offers the perfect mix of experience and excellence in private sector development, climate change, entrepreneurship, education and training, and research and development know-how.
Through our work 1,129 Metric Tonnes of CO2 have been avoided. Over 200,000 households have access to products innovated by our entrepreneurs and 127 direct jobs have been created with 57 of them being women-led. More than $1.4 million has been received in grants by businesses – about $700,000 of which was disbursed through GCIC proof of concept grants.