Conversation with a founder of Europe’s market leader in high quality bamboo flooring.
Dutch processing firm MOSO International is the European market leader, producing quality bamboo flooring, ceiling panels and cabinets. It was founded by two businessmen interested in using renewable bamboo as a sustainable alternative to many products currently made from timber – doing business and helping curb deforestation. Currently, the company buys most of its raw bamboo from Asia.
Arjen Veltman: Why not think about different products and be innovative?
Arjen Veltman, Commercial Director and co-founder, says there is substantial scope for African bamboo-based enterprises to make higher quality products. “Why not think about different products and be innovative?” he suggests. “Often, people think bamboo is a cheap product. That means you need to work on awareness. And finally – go for quality.”
Sourcing its raw materials from China, the company has developed machines and technology to produce high quality bamboo flooring for mainly corporate clients in the European market. Since its launch in 1997, the firm has diversified into producing ceiling panels and cabinets. In all cases, the design and quality mean that items bear little resemblance to traditional bamboo products, that has a dated image in the minds of many consumers.
Such is the style, finish and resilience of the product that clients include major airports and well known international chains of stores and coffee bars. “We have a great deal of experience on the market side,” says co-founder and Commercial Director Arjen Veltman. “And at the end of the day, it’s important that a product finds a market.”
Sustainability and bamboo’s ‘green’ qualities are key benefits and becoming a powerful new marketing tool, especially for consumers in Europe and the US. “It’s important to back claims of CO2 neutrality with evidence from third party experts,” says Veltman.
“It’s also critical to focus on quality. People often think bamboo is a cheap product. They don’t usually link bamboo to a high grade product.” His advice for budding African bamboo entrepreneurs: “First focus on your local market and make the public aware of your products and unique aspects of bamboo. Public awareness is very important to build Africa’s new markets.” “Then look at innovation, at how to make your product different, and how it will target the market.”
This is a summary of remarks made at the INBAR International Summit on Bamboo and Rattan in the Green Economy in Addis Ababa.