Selected from an applicant pool of over 1000 projects, the finalists for Cartier Award 2014 come from 15 different countries. They all lead compagnies. UFFP met one of the finalist who became Laureate for Sub- Saharan Africa, at the press launch and lunch of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award this past October 2014.
Afrocentric Bamboo, GHANA
Manufactures and markets bicycles from BAMBOO
2014 finalist- Subsahara Africa
Winnie and her cofounder, have started their own plantation of Bamboo in sedia, in the Ashanti region of Ghana. There, Bamboo grows naturally, . The company has trained, 42 people to manufacture and assemble the bikes locally, primarily women with little education, who are paid double the minimum daily wage. The company uses waste bamboo to reduce dependency on wood for fuel, and slows deforestation!
It also improves education opportunities for girls, who no longuer have to go to gather wood for fuel. An amazing project, like UFFP loves them. And Winnifred is the youngest finalist of the season, she is only 19. UFFP founder was very proud to meet her in Paris.
By Fériel Berraies Guigny for UNITED FASHION FOR PEACE. Photo Courtesy of UFFP and Diane Cazelles
Interview with UFFP
Tell us how ecofriendly you are? We take advantage of waste bamboo and we add value to it, by creating a bicycle.
We design the bikes locally and they are a sure way of transportation as they also can carry heavy loads and are far greater tensile strength than steel. We also control our own raw material by planting our bamboo in Seidi. We also prevent deforestation as we reduce dependency on wood for charcoal and fuel.
It is also a social initiative? Yes as we teach young girls to do something else, we have trained 45 young women into this business. And at the end of the month, they are paid, so they can take care of their household. When they have their own bicycle, they are also more independent, they can travel and go to the markets p laces, to sell their own products.
Afrocentric Bamboo, is transport but also employment? Yes it give the liberty to move to places, and it is made to be affordable for them.It is a real important commodity in Ghana, and with the deforestation, it is more then ever important to encourage initiatives like ours, for developping the production of Bamboo. The government is very much so involved in such initiatives.
Environments is a main concern? yes cutting and growing Bamboo, helps indeed the environment, because Ghana suffers from great deforestation, and we cut our own bamboo in our own plantation, we make sure to replace it.
Women empowerment is important for you? yes it is an important dynamic for me, we focus in helping the women who are poorly educated, and that have no employment. For them, there was no other way to do. A lot of women in my region are prisonners of mentalities, lack of means, and it is important to contribute to their economic empowerment. Mainly for the youngsters women in Ghana. A country where, it is hard to face up to gender impact on social status.
Bamboo Electrics ? yes it is a new other project, where we are going to be using also electricity in Bamboo.
What advice could you give to african and arabic women, the readers of UFFP? I would say, that is crucial to motivate and encourage women who have real initiatives. It is all about confidence and getting valued, I remember a couple of years ago, when i Was 17 and went to register my project in my Country, people asked me if » I had the right frame of mind to start my own business » !
So when we educate a woman, we education a whole Nation ? yes ! Women are like men, we have the right frame of mind and me must break up with these tabous that under evaluates us. She is a source of inspiration to all our african sisters. Women can make the change, it is a question of courage and talent.
Breaking tabboos in Africa ? a great challenge indeed, but african women have always showed their bravoury and creativity.
What do you think of the situation of northern african women, the other side, since the arabic spring? From what I have heard, i can only say, that i m impressed by their courage and their courage to fight for their rights.
Your Cartier Experience ? it was a great exposure in the medias for me, just this with the training and mentoring sessions it was a great experience for me. I would like to thank Cartier for all these opportunities.
Thank you Winnifred !