Africa is a continent that is home to about 1.2 billion people, over 70% of whom are 30 years old or younger. It is vital that these people have access to decent job opportunities, especially as youth unemployment presents serious global social and economic challenges.
The lack of employment, education or training for young people only adds to the projection rate of 2.2 million unemployed youth in the region in 2017 (ILO Trends for Youth report).
In Ghana, the use of locally made bamboo bikes is one simple – and sustainable – way the issue is being tackled.
Employment for young people
Together with Ghana Bamboo Bikes, Nestlé in Central and West Africa is helping to boost employment.
The social enterprise, launched in 2008 in Bekwai in the Ashanti region, creates job opportunities and training for skilled and unskilled young people, especially women. It offers practical lessons and technical expertise on building environmentally sustainable bicycles using native bamboo.
Bernice Dapaah, founder of Ghana Bamboo Bikes says the initiative is already making a huge difference.
We look to build capacity and create employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled youth and women.
Today we employ 50 people and have already sold thousands of bikes in Ghana and abroad. We will expand to the northern region of Ghana and diversify our product range in the future, she adds.
Monitoring child labour
The benefits of building bamboo bikes do not just stop there. Nestlé CWAR’s partnership with Ghana Bamboo Bikes has also helped to monitor child labour in the area.
A total of 30 bamboo bikes were distributed to 90 new community liaison officers, who are trained to monitor child labour and carry out sensitization campaigns in Bekwai and Nsokoti in Ashanti, where two Nestlé Cocoa Plan farms are based in each village.
This was part of the launch of the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in Ghana in March 2017, to reinforce child labour monitoring in cocoa-growing communities under the Plan.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan, launched in 2009, is helping to improve the lives of cocoa farmers by increasing their income through a set of activities including training in good agricultural practices, providing them with new plants, and creating long-term relationships in its supply chain.
Working with farmers
The partnership is also currently working with nearly a dozen farmers in the country to enhance employment and develop their bamboo plantations and harvest for use in production.
In addition, using locally sourced bamboo is a suitable alternative to wood to help preserve Ghana’s decreasing forests, and reduces carbon emissions in comparison to the manufacturing of steel bicycle frames.
These native bamboo bikes not only boost employment and training opportunities, farmers are also able to develop their plantations, environmental impact is reduced in the depleting Ghanaian forests, and local communities continue to be protected and monitored against child labour.