INSPIRED BY GHANA
Bonobo Concept store
Looking for some nice furniture for your home in Ghana? Or a unique custom made piece you want to take home with you when you leave? Bonobo is the place to go to!
Bonobo concept store is a furniture design shop that produces made in Ghana wooden design furniture and home décor. Their modern touch combined with the current tendency of moving towards minimalist styles is unique in Ghana.
They use local wood, all the furniture is produced in their workshop in Accra and they have a lead time of about 5 weeks, mainly due to the wood drying process.
Celia and Peter started the business as a side business in 2018, working evenings and weekends on their Bonobo creations. As the demand grew and they started their first big project, they have now set up a showroom in their home and a workshop a few minutes away where Peter is now working full time.
We have asked them a few questions about how they met and set up their business in Ghana as well as some advice for newcomers.
What brought you to Ghana?
Celia and Peter both moved back to Ghana in 2015 after their studies in France.
Peter was born and grew up in Ghana. He went to the French school Jacques Prévert and then went to university in France where he studied mechanical engineering and completed a master in quality management.
Celia grew up in Ivory Coast and moved to Ghana due to the political events that occurred in Ivory Coast. She also attended the French school in Accra but did not know Peter at the time. She went back to France where she finished high school and then studied communication and marketing.
They both realized that they wanted to come back to Africa, that there were many opportunities and that this is where they could make an impact.
So Peter returned “home” and Celia also came back to Ghana as her father was still working there in 2015. Their paths crossed, they recognized each other from school and as they said, the magic did it’s trick from there.
Give us a brief intro to why you started Bonobo? How did you come up with the idea?
Both Celia and Peter planned their return to Ghana and secured jobs before coming back.
Surprisingly enough, although Peter was a carpenter’s son, it is Celia that came up with the Bonobo idea!
They started Bonobo as a side business in 2018, spending their evenings and weekends bringing it to life and decided that when they got their first big project, one of them would fully dedicate themself to Bonobo.
This took place last summer 2021 with the renovation project of the restaurant Vine that they executed. Peter is now full time on the job, managing the team, drawing the designs, following up on the production in the workshop and training the members of the team.
What inspired you to start your company? And what inspires your creativity in general? How do you come up with the designs?
They directly noticed the gap in the furniture sector and one of their main goals and challenges quickly became making international standard furniture in Ghana.
Why ship furniture from Europe when you can buy what you want locally, helping the local craftsmen, developing their skills and the community?
This is how they decided to start their business and produce pieces of furniture with local craftsmen and materials, all made in Ghana.
Regarding the designs, they have three different approaches:
- either the client already has an idea of what he wants, based on a picture for example
- either they collaborate with the customers and create and draw something together
- or they create pieces themselves, revisiting previous pieces, brainstorming their ideas, putting them in drawing and then creating them, trying to produce something original that you can’t find on internet.
How big is your team? I saw you might consider expanding to other neighboring countries, is this one of your upcoming projects?
The Bonobo team is composed of 8 people in the workshop, they have 2 full time carpenters, 3 full time welders, one full time sprayer and one freelance as well as one driver.
The administration part of the business, supply chain, social media is currently managed by Peter and Celia.
The team was put together quickly and smoothly. Celia says this is thanks to Peter’s cultural background. The fact that his mother is Ghanaian, that he speaks English like a Ghanaian, understands Twi, that he is a man and that he masters the cultural etiquette and way to communicate was a big advantage for them. She says that if she had gone forward on her own, she would not have been able to grow so quickly.
Their biggest challenge was finding the full time carpenters, as many of them have their own shops and are not looking to work for someone.
For three years they worked with freelance carpenters which was challenging as they trained and developed them only to start over and over. Now that they have a solid team of their own, they are excited to improve their carpentry work and develop their teams skills.
Celia has a vision, a dream of seeing their furniture, made in Ghana, sold in other countries, she would love to be able to share their passion across to the neighboring countries.
Their objective this year is to succeed with one export, test it and see from there.
What is the best thing about living in Accra?
For Peter, it would be Ghana’s general relaxed atmosphere. It’s a safe country. It’s easy to interact with people, to discuss and laugh with Ghanaians. He enjoys the informal way of talking with people and the freedom you experience in the country.
And at the same time, these same qualities can also sometimes make it difficult to work or live in.
And of course, he says the food is definitely a key factor! He recommends us to try Livingroom in East Legon for typical Ghanian food. Buka as well, but it is more refined, it’s a different experience.
For Celia, it is the endless opportunities for nature weekends, discovering different hidden corners of the country, being almost alone walking on the beach.
What’s your favorite place in Ghana?
Axim and Busua are the most beautiful beaches they have been to in Ghana and what they love most is the fact that the forest actually meets the ocean!
What advice could you give to newcomer expats?
Their key advice arriving in Ghana or Africa is to come with an open mind and not expect things to work like they did in your home country. You can’t try to replicate things, you need to ride the wave and accept you are in another “world”.
Follow their newest creations on their social media pages:
Please feel free to contact us regarding our relocation services or any other questions you may have about settling in to Ghana at firstname.lastname@example.org or +233 (0) 543 566 921.