Builders

Wisdom Toxla

Location:
Accra, the capital city of Ghana, West Africa

During the recent decades Wisdom has been freelancing in a variety of capacities in the Ghanaian bike industry. His work with Bamboosero has introduced and impressed upon him the importance of modern world business mediums like the internet. To bridge the gap he has brought his son, Roland, in as an integral part of his business. After working hard to put his son through school, Wisdom is reaping the benefits of his son’s writing, administrative and computer skills that he often uses in Bamboosero dealings.

Background:
Wisdom built his first toy vehicle out of a spattering of recycled parts at the age of 10. A few years later realizing that his pleas for a bike would remain unanswered he decided to hone his skills until he achieved a ride-able form of transport. Many iterations into the process he arrived at a bicycle which was a fusion of wood and steel; this bike was acknowledged and currently resides The Museum of Science and Technology in Accra.
Since his early teens he has been involved in the bike industry in various capacities; as bike builder, racer, mechanic or simply the all-around bike man in Accra. Wisdom is an artist and brings a lifetime of experience and dedication to the craft itself and to every frame he builds

Wisdom’s business:
As a husband and father of 3, Wisdom is cautious with his finances. Nonetheless he’s doing everything he can to build capacity and bamboo bike making skills, he’s ready to ramp up.
He has borrowed a few hundred dollars for shop improvement and has supplied his customers with a great ride so that he can continue to build his life long dream, his own bike business!
Support Wisdom by buying one of his frames and getting your own great ride!
Wisdom Video

 

Ben Opk

Location:
Dwenase, Eastern Region of Ghana

Craig and Ben, getting the Tour bikes ready.

Dwenase is a village of about 2,500 people situated 2.5 kilometers from the main north-south highway of Ghana called the Accra-Kumasi road.

Workshop environment:
Ben’s shop is right in the center of Dwenase.  It’s a small storefront with enough space for himself and two helpers to make frames and build bikes.
Ben Interview
Background:
Ben found Bamboosero when he was at a crossroads in his life. Pondering his options in the village which, at the time felt like few, he sought his chance at becoming a Bamboosero to no abandon. Since his initial exposure to Bamboosero Ben has seized any and every opportunity to attain further bicycle related training be it in frame building, mechanics, or bike touring/guiding.

Through his Bamboosero frame sales he plans to pay back his loan and pay for his last two years of school. Support Ben and his efforts to pursue his dreams by buying a frame from him!

 

Freddy Salgado

Location:  Gisborne, New Zealand

New Zealand has a great deal of interest in localism as well as environmentally friendly products lending itself well to the idea of bamboo bicycles. Shipping frames checked for safety in California to New Zealand is prohibitively expensive. The opportunity to work with Freddy, owner of Bikeys in Gisborne, addresses this concern as well as puts the organization in a geographical position to expand into markets such has Fiji and other economically depressed markets in the future. It is exciting to see Freddy’s command of bicycle building as well as receive frames with such unique and exquisite art as these bikes display under the layer of thick glossy clear coat.


Alfred Freddy Salgado::

I currently live in the remote East Coast town of Gisborne, in New Zealand, where I own a small bike shop [named Bikeys].  I’ve been working with bikes since as long as I can remember: I spent 8 years as a bike courier in downtown Chicago and worked for various shops as a bike mechanic.  I’ve built my own bike frames as a hobby for many years and became interested in bamboo bikes from a sustainability perspective and for its bamboo’s fascinating natural qualities.  I’m also excited by the opportunity to develop local industry in my town, which suffers from high ‘underemployment’.

About the bike:: ”The bike is painted by a local Maori artist and represents the spirit of Gisborne, the first city in the world to see the sun of each new day. It also celebrates Gisborne’s surf breaks.  I’ve wrapped the bike with fibres of the New Zealand flax ( harakeke), which were processed in a heritage flax mill. For Maori, fibre from flax leaves was a major source of clothing, cordage, matting, medicine and containers.  The introduction of synthetic fibres caused a decline in the industry but Maori continue to strip flax for traditional crafts and there is interest for flax use in composites.”

Abompe Group

Location: Abompe, Eastern Region of Ghana
Abompe is a village of just over 2,000 people. It’s just 3.5 kilometers east of the main north-south highway of Ghana called the Accra-Kumasi road.

Workshop environment:
About 6 months after their initial training, the group put their combined masonry and carpentry skills together to create a conveniently located work space which sits just a block from the town junction. Using borrowed funds for materials only, in short order they had a cheerily painted room that houses all of their equipment. On workdays they extract workbenches and other equipment to setup shop in the same space which morphs into the town video hall in the evenings.
Background:
Back in February 2008, local Peace Corps Volunteer Suzanne Hartley invited Craig and his mysterious ‘bamboo bicycle making project’. This first visit was made possible by the graces of David Peckham and his Village Bicycle Project, through which he has been distributing used bicycle in Ghana for more than a decade. Craig brought a bamboo cargo bike with him to each of the four VBP workshops to introduce the idea and assess enthusiasm of the Abompians. 6 months later a group of 10 ‘students’ were ready to learn the art of Bamboosero frame building.
The Abompe group has risen to the occasion of varied opportunities presenting them with substantial learning curves, to their credit this group of Bambooseros has endured. Some of their commitment stems from their preference to resist the flow of urban flight (rural peoples flooding to over-crowded urban areas in search for income) in favor of staying the village with their families; each individually embraces the dream of attaining financial security through their work as Bambooseros.

 

The Yonso Group

Location:  Near Yonso, Ashanti Region, Ghana

The Yonso Project is working to provide the community members of Yonso with new employment and business opportunities.
The flagship program is the Bamboosero bamboo bike workshop. In late October, the Yonso Project hosted a workshop, involving representatives from Uganda and Ghana where Craig Calfee came to train staff members for the Bamboosero workshops scattered across the continent. The intial staff of 3, completed their training and accepted full employment producing bike frames made out of bamboo and fiber for sale through the Bamboosero website. They will be extending invitations to local artists to create a series of specially designed Kente and Adinkra themed cosmetic surface treatments for a more specialized Ghanaian frame.
Kente cloth, known locally as nwentoma, is a type of fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the country of Ghana. It is the Tribal cloth for many Ethnic groups in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Togo and, it is a pan-African symbol.

Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra are used on fabric, walls, in pottery, woodcarvings and logos. Fabric adinkra are often made by woodcut sign writing as well as screen printing. They also can be used to communicate evocative messages that represent parts of their life or those around them.
All Bambooseros are offered full medical coverage for their entire family and a significantly higher living wage. All profits from this endeavor go to fund community civic projects, scholarships, microloans, and other Yonso Project programs.