I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our donors who have commited funds over the past 3 years for us to establish the Yonso Project Bamboo Bike Workshop. Since it’s entirely due to your efforts, I thought that you, our visitors, deserve to be let in on some of the exciting evolve-ments (this is the internet, I can invent new words, right?) that we have going on. So, over the next few months, I’ll be regularly uploading new posts, catching you fine readers up on what’s new in bamboo bike land. Besides, who doesn’t want to spend more time on our shnazzy new site?
For those of you who are new to the program, our shop hires and trains under-educated young people in our sponsored communities, people who would otherwise be engaged in poaching and illegal logging, in rural Ghana to build bicycle frames out of locally harvested bamboo. We use a solar drying oven and a special form of environmentally friendly “green” epoxy, making the whole process extremely ecologically sustainable. Doesn’t that just make your inner-hippy tingle? We then sell our frames to Bamboosero, a company set up by Craig Calfee, one of the original designers and builders of carbon fiber bike frames, and owner of one of the best hand-made artisan bike frame shops in the world, Calfee Design. Long story short, Craig’s good people.
After going on 3 years of work in preparation and training, this year the shop has finally turned a serious corner. It’s been a hard road, with a sharp learning curve for everyone involved. Anyone familiar with the sheer amount of time that carbon fiber bike frames took to become common-place should have a pretty good idea of how slowly new production methods can take to be accepted by the general and racing bike market. In an effort to prove that the product really is superior to most existing commercial bike frame materials, Bamboosero’s been stringent in their expectation for quality, both structural and in appearance, from shops like ours.
That’s why we’re so proud that our products have finally been approved by Bamboosero for sale domestically in Ghana. While Bamboosero’s been purchasing our frames for over a year now, this has involved secondary inspection and, in some cases, final finishing work at their shop in California. Now though, we’ve established our abilities to produce bike frames that they’re confident meet their high standards without any secondary US inspections. This has been a goal for quite a while, since it’s only right for our bambooseros to sell to their native Ghanaians. Even better, the removal of shipping costs to the US allows us to pay our staff a significantly increased commission on all domestic sales. Let’s hear it for our guys for making this happen, go Eddie, Ofori, and Ben!
Even more significantly, Bamboosero is so impressed with our frames that they’ve guaranteed an increase in their orders to 10 bike frames per month, double their largest previous order. This means serious commissions for our employees and serious income for the Yonso Project, all of which will be immediately poured back into our scholarship and microlending programs.
In a related note, if you or any of your friends are in Ghana and looking for a cheap awesome looking ride, send a shout our way. We’d be happy to hook you up!