ENTREPRENEURSHIP GOALS! LESSONS FROM WINIFRED SELBY ON STARTING A BUSINESS WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Winifred Selby didn’t have to wait to have access to Wakanda’s Vibranium from the Marvel studio’s movie ‘Black Panther ‘ to start her business. Instead, she opted for the readily available bamboo from her native country, Ghana to co-found Ghana Bamboo Bikes – A company focused on the manufacturing of bamboo bikes that were suitable for the unique terrain of the region, including high terrain and rough roads.
Financial struggle was another major motivation as she set out to coming up with Afrocentric Bamboo. Her entrepreneurship has also pushed her to channel her positive energy into fair trade values that include paying employees fair wages, and creating an environmentally responsible and sustainable product.
Compared to traditional metal bicycle manufacturing, bamboo bikes take less electricity and require no hazardous chemicals. This lessens not only the levels of carbon emissions created in production, but also lessens exposure risks for those making them. Bamboo is readily available in Ghana.
The company has been Selby’s path out of poverty, and she wanted to give other Ghanaian women the same opportunity. She employs 35 girls and women giving them proper training to produce bamboo bikes, teaching them a critical trade.
“There are no jobs here and most of the girls and young boys leave the community to Accra and Kumasi to do menial jobs after school,” Selby said. “Some of them don’t even have a good education. We want to change that with this initiative.”
Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative’s success can be seen in the ever-increasing demand for its bikes – Selby and her team work overtime to try to meet the demand.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative is earning $16,000 to $20,000 in revenue each month.
These bikes have been endorsed by the former United Nation Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and Ghanaian TV host, Kafui Dey.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes bicycles are produced exclusively for the local market and are priced at $100.
Selby is a finalist of the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Award.