The first phase commissioned 100 Bamboo Bikes to be distributed initially in five districts: Enchi, Asawinso, Dadieso, Agona Agemfi and Asankfragwa. A team at Kuapa Kokoo worked together to identify the first village societies to involve and the criteria for selecting the children to receive the bikes – including being children of Kuapa members, walking over 4 miles to school, aged between 9 and 16, and those showing most interest and diligence in their classes.
The bikes will be distributed along with workshops run by Ghana Bamboo Bikes to ensure the bikes current owners and local people have the skills to maintain and fix the bikes – which have been manufactured to withstand the rough terrain, and basic roads around the cocoa farms of Western Ghana.
We’re delighted to hear that the first distribution of bikes has been a success – with the first consignment of bikes handed out at Dadieso this Spring. The next dates are now being scheduled.
Mr. Abrampah Mensah, Executive Secretary of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, traveled to Dadieso for the inauguration of the project. Quoted in the Ghana press, he said, “Thanks to Divine Chocolate, Kuapa Kokoo is focusing on the needs of the children who are our future.” He described the farmers' children as the future of the cocoa industry and the local communities, hence the need to invest in their education. Nana Armah Kofi III, Kontihene (the local chief) of Dadieso, agreed that the long distances children cover to get to schools is a disincentive to learning and commended Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate for their investment in education.
Twenty children very happily received bikes at Dadieso at what was conducted as quite a formal occasion. Paul Nsiah, 12, said, "I normally get to school late and tired, but with this bike that Kuapa and Divine have given me I will reach school early." Solomon Gyakitey, 14, also expressed his thanks and promised, "I will take good care of it," and Naomi Larry acknowledged that “the bike will help support me when I am going to school".
There are inevitable challenges and hold-ups setting up such a project, and the team at Kuapa Kokoo will assess this first pilot in order to give their recommendations for going forward. The combination of enabling children to get to and from school quicker, so less of their day is spent traveling, plus working with a social enterprise with sustainability at its core will be very satisfying if it works. If, having reviewed the pilot, Kuapa Kokoo is happy with the criteria and the partnership with Ghana Bamboo Bikes, the intention is that Divine in the UK and the US will establish a fundraising program to help finance the future production of Kuapa bikes. This will also serve as the hub of our Stay Independent campaign with cyclists.
In some of the most remote parts of rural Western Ghana, Kuapa Kokoo is piloting a program to supply bikes to young people who have long distances to travel to school. Kuapa Sakrele (or Kuapa Bikes) is a collaboration with Divine Chocolate, which has funded the pilot, and Ghana Bamboo Bikes – an enterprise training young people to make and fix bikes, and using local bamboo to make the bikes’ structure.