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bambooWinifred Selby was 15-years-old when she and two others founded Ghana Bamboo Bikes in 2009.

Growing up in poverty, Selby was motivated to provide both a steady income for herself and her family.

“When I was six things were so tight that we sometimes had to sell [items] during [school] vacations, because where are the school fees going to come from?” she told DW.

Since founding Ghana Bamboo Bikes with Bernice Dapaah and Kwame Kyei, Selby’s business has boomed, drawing international acclaim and making a profit under the principles of fair trade and environmental responsibility. The company also provides steady employment to young Ghanian women.

Thirty women work to assemble the bamboo bikes in the company’s headquarters in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city.

Not only are the bikes eco-friendly, they’re quite resilient. Bamboo is capable of carrying 500 pounds per square inch of material and, according to the company’s website, its fibers imbue it with natural vibration dampening-qualities that reduces the fatigue and shock associated with carbon frames. Whereas steel, aluminum, and titanium frames all require high levels of energy to produce, bamboo is organic, sustainable, non-polluting and recyclable.

“A frame is $250, and we produce 90,” said Selby. “If the cost of producing a bamboo frame is 150 and we are selling at 250, then it means we get a profit of 100.”

Recently, Bamboo Bikes got a PR boost when Kafui Dey, a popular Ghanian TV host, took one for a test ride.

“It felt good and stable, it wasn’t too heavy and I had a spin around, and I enjoyed it,” Dey said. “What was more exciting to me was the initiative – being taken by Ghanaians to do something not just for themselves but for their communities.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also took one for a spin:

Image Credit: Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative

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