Black woman on motorcycle
Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Jessica Opare-Saforo is the founder of Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective in Ghana.

From riding motorcycles as a hobby to pushing charitable causes, Biker Girls Gh are always in motion.

In Ghana, there is a staunch stereotype that comes with riding a motorcycle. The notion persists that people who ride them are vagabonds, criminals, and social misfits. This mindset has slowly festered and is now deep-rooted in the typical Ghanaian society. Aside from the negatives, there is the fear for life when one mounts a motorcycle and, as such, many Ghanaian homes have been against motorbikes.

Enter Jessica Opare-Saforo, who is redefining what this means with Biker Girls Gh, a women-led biker collective she founded in 2018. In a fairly conservative society like Ghana, to see women riding around freely attracted quite the attention.

However, be it one of indignance or admiration, Opare-Saforo didn’t really care about the conjecture people had about the group. “For me, creating this group wasn’t about what people thought," Opare-Saforo tells OkayAfrica. "OK, if you thought women weren’t supposed to ride. That was your headache, not mine.”

How it all began

motorcycle

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

Biker Girls Gh was created after Opare-Saforo's mother passed away in February 2018. Losing someone she was extremely close to devastated her and she found solace on the wheels of a motorcycle.

“I lost my mother and I figured, you know, I had this passion that I wanted to pursue for the longest time. And I felt you only live once. Why don't you just embark on something that you have always wanted to do?," Opare-Saforo said. "Because time is not given. And, tomorrow's not guaranteed.”

She reached out to Rosina Kwawukume Ashirifie, one of the very few women actively biking at the time. Ashirifie's husband offered biking lessons and Opare-Saforo learned from there. Over time, Opare-Saforo found that being on bike helped alleviate her pain.

“On the motorcycle, you cannot multitask," she said. “So whenever I was on a motorcycle, I didn’t think about her and the pain too much. That helped me cope better. You just learn to live with the pain and hope they are in a better place.”

Biker Girls Gh riding in streets

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Opare-Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

She decided then to form a community of women who simply loved riding like herself. Interestingly, she didn’t have to convince women to join. Representation really does matter. Women got the nudge they needed when they saw her — unapologetically being herself — on the motorcycle.

“You would see people on television or maybe on the internet who would ride and you'd think, 'Oh, that's such an interesting sport or an interesting hobby to have.' But you would think it was out of reach," Opare-Saforo said. "'Till you realize your next-door neighbor is a female rider and then you‘re like, 'Oh, wait, it's not so far out of reach.' And then you say to yourself, 'OK, this is something I can do, too.’”

Most bikes are manufactured with men’s physique in mind. Women might find it difficult to find the right fit for them. (Even though Opare-Saforo suggests the Kawasaki as ideal for women between 5’5 to 5’8.) And motorcycling is a relatively high-risk hobby; safety is non-negotiable. Biker Girls Gh is stern on safety precautions, which sounds intimidating to the average rider or new rider. But it is a policy they are unwilling to compromise on. Should a member ride without their full gear on three times in a row, the group exercises measures like suspension.

The group doesn’t offer bike lessons and new members must have their own motorcycles as a prerequisite. They must also be experienced riders or ideally be above beginner level. A motorcycling license is also a prerequisite.

“Before you officially join the group, we take you out on a fun ride to assess how you ride and also gel with the girls," Opare-Saforo said. "This is done like three times."

Charitable Ladies on the Bike

A group of women in bike group

Biker Girls Gh features bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

A noticeable feature of the group is how most of the women come from different professional backgrounds. There are bankers, content creators, electrical engineers, managing directors, and CEOs. Targeting this peculiar bevy of ladies was deliberate for Opare-Saforo. She didn’t want to be like other groups, so standing out was imperative to the group.

“Being able to pull women from various spheres of life helps us and gives us the necessary leverage we need to move further,” she said.

The core objective of the group has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy. In 2019, they rode all the way from Accra to Prampram where they donated immensely to the Kinder Paradise Orphanage. In 2021, they paid the medical bills of women stuck in the hospital for owing medical fees and donated to prison inmates at Akuse who couldn’t afford healthy meals. They also collaborated with the “Kenkey for the Needy” project in 2022 to provide food for street kids in Accra.

Inspirational sisters spurring each other up

black women with mask

The core objective of Biker Girls Gh has always been about riding. But they have also embraced philanthropy.

Photo Courtesy of Biker Girls Gh

The camaraderie and sisterhood in the group is profound, which encapsulate a solid support system that inspire members to be the best versions of themselves.

“Ninety-five percent of the group are in leadership or mid-level roles in their respective careers,” Opare-Saforo said. “We have a WhatsApp group where we discuss socio-economic issues, sometimes issues concerning women just to stimulate the sisterhood. Once a month, we meet to have breakfast or lunch to catch up. We do acknowledge that times are hard in Ghana and everyone is struggling. Sometimes you don’t just want to text anything in a WhatsApp group but if you meet your sister you can tell her about it.”

Beyond that, personal friendships are also forming within the group which just firmly grounds the group the more. Biker Girls Gh are currently 17 women and Opare-Saforo iterates the fact that she doesn’t care about the number necessarily — all she strives for is quality in the group.

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