Raheena Abdul-Azeez is a junior high school student in the Asokore Mampong municipality of the Ashanti region who commutes a long distance from home to access education.
She spends at least an hour daily to go to school and same period to return home after classes; a routine that impacts adversely on her academic performance.
Raheena is among the first set of 30 students, education and health workers benefiting from an intervention by the African Bicycle Contribution Foundation (ABCF), a US-based non-profit corporation, distributing free Ghanaian-made bamboo bikes.
“I’m happy because the bicycle will help me to come to school early and if I come to school early, I’ll find some time to study,” said an elated Raheena.
The ABCF is passionate about empowering people in need and and has a mission to generate funding to underwrite the distribution of bicycles to needy students, families and transport-dependent smallholder farmers, health workers and others on the African continent.
In Ghana, the Foundation has made a commitment to finance the free distribution of 2,500 bicycles in its first five years of operation.
“The free distribution of these sturdy, world-class, bamboo bikes to under-resourced populations in Ghana is just the first stage of our Foundation's program,” said A. Bruce Crawley, chairman of ABCF. “In addition, we want to orchestrate technology-facilitated, inter-continental workshops and seminars between students and entrepreneurs in Ghana and their counterparts in the U.S”.
Two multi-stakeholder bicycle distribution events have been held in Kumasi and Accra, which attracted former President John Agyekum Kuffour, representatives of embassies and ministers of state.
The ABCF was represented by Executive Director, Patricia Marshall Harris and ABCF board member, Florence Torson-Hart, a Ghanaian-born senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in the U.S.
“Support of this kind is seen as a major driver of equitable social development and gender mainstreaming, while narrowing the wide economic gap,” said Mr. Kuffuor.
The events were hosted by Bright Generation Community Foundation (BGCF) and the Ghana Bamboo Bike Initiative (GBBI), a Kumasi-based manufacturer of the “EcoRide” bamboo bicycles.
Other partners include Values For Life, The Respect Alliance, VillageBicycle Project and the U.S.-Ghana Chamber of Commerce.
According to Bernice Dapaah, CEO and founder of GBBI, the partnership will not only help meet the transportation needs of rural economies, but create jobs and sustain livelihoods.
“We’re so happy because when they buy the bicycles from us, we’re going to create a lot of employment for the youth; the more we’re able to sell, the more we’re able to produce and we’re also happy that the bicycles that they’re buying are being donated to school children who walk miles to go to school,” he stated.
The Foundation also wants to facilitate the establishment of new trade channels in the U.S to expand the company’s size and workforce, and its capacity for export around the world.
By Kofi Adu Domfeh