Sales boost for pioneering Ghanaian bamboo bike manufacturer after Challenges intervention

Boomers International is a bamboo bicycle manufacturing and distribution company based in Ghana. Its vision is to grow the brand globally, pioneering its sustainable and innovative bamboo products, while also providing employment to young Ghanaians and supporting a community project that works to target poverty through greater access to education. Challenges undertook a comprehensive business diagnostic with Boomers that included a market assessment and business support and development. Following our involvement, Boomers reported improvements across a number of areas, including sales and marketing, financial management and production.

Boomers International Ltd is a Ghanaian social enterprise that produces high-quality, affordable bamboo products while maintaining a social mission that seeks to bring economic and social benefits to its customers and its staff. Launched in 2014 by entrepreneur Kwabena Danso, the business’s flagship product is its bamboo bike frames, and it has recently diversified to produce a growing range of bamboo accessories, from bike baskets to children’s trikes.

(L to R) Boadu Isaac, works as part of the gluing team. Kwabena Danso, founder of Booomers. Ampousah Boateng Selina is Deputy Operations Manager.

Now a thriving and successful SME, Boomers has produced more than 2500 bike frames and thousands more bamboo accessories, with stockists across the UK, Germany, the US and the Far East. At the time of Challenges’ intervention, the business had 28 employees, only two of whom were female. Boomers has since grown its workforce to more than 50 staff, and also indirectly supports dozens of local bamboo farmers and other young people associated with the cultivation and harvesting of the crop.

As part of our initial consultation, Challenges’ business advisers worked closely with the Boomers management team, running an in-depth enterprise diagnostic that examined a wide range of areas. As well as strength and opportunities, our assessment also looked at areas such as barriers to growth, rivals, legislative obstacles, and so on.

One of our key findings was that Boomers lacked a robust marketing strategy, and that as a result, it suffered from poor brand awareness. As part of our intervention, we supported the management team with the creation of marketing collateral and PR activity. Another barrier to Boomers growth was the high cost of transport of materials.

After the intervention, Challenges made a series of recommendations in a number of key areas.

Looking at Boomers’ organisational structure, we recommended the business standardised its training, and that it worked towards a more diverse and educated workforce. Given that Boomers was donating 15% of its profits to the Yonso Project, which works to alleviate poverty through education, we suggested greater ties with the initiative. We also recommended that Boomers shared its business mission and social vision with its staff through improved internal communications.

When it came to its product offering, Challenges’ business advisers recommended Boomers looked at diversification, and proposed a range of possible bamboo products, from laminate flooring to bike accessories. We also suggested improvements to production management, both to improve efficiencies while also reducing waste and streamlining operations.

With regards to sales and marketing, we recommended Boomers invested in marketing support, either internally through a direct appointment or externally through a marketing agency. As part of this, we encouraged the management team to create a robust B2B marketing strategy, B2C advertising campaign, and product strategy that addressed the various value chains in its different markets.

Boomers now offers an in-house training programme that gives experience and employment for young people in the local rural community. Crucially, it takes trainees through the entire manufacturing process, from the harvesting of bamboo through to the final assembly of bespoke bicycles in order to ensure they’re equipped with a diverse skill set.

Boomers continues to court success, and has also had support from the YouthActionNet program, the UK Department for International Development’s ENGINE project, the Tony Eleumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program and the African Entrepreneurship Award. Most recently its chief executive Kwabena was selected for the Obama Foundation Leaders African Programme 2018.

Following the our intervention, Challenges has continued to work closely with Boomer, and has helped the Ghanaian business create market linkages with stockists in the UK and mainland Europe.

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