The Need | Dried red pepper is the most widely consumed spice in the world, eaten daily by one-quarter of the world’s population. An estimated 400,000 women in Ethiopia process peppers by hand, a laborious procedure that turns fresh peppers into higher-value products: dried flakes, seeds, and powder. The tiring work leaves their hands covered in hot pepper oil and their eyes, noses, and throats burning from pepper dust in the air.

Our Mission | To provide enterprising women who manually process chili peppers with moreefficient and safer tools, as current methods are labor-intensive and hazardous.

Our Solution | The Pepper Eater is an affordable hand-cranked pepper grinder that flakes dried peppers about four times faster than flaking by hand and twice as fast as using a large mortar and pestle. It allows for continuous processing while limiting contact with pepper dust and oil, which could help prevent long-term exposure to capsaicin*. Additionally, a sifting mechanism quickly allows seeds to be separated from flakes. Made from locally available, inexpensive materials, we have developed the Pepper Eater to be manufactured in local, rural fabrication workshops while still being affordable.

Capsaicin is the chemical that gives peppers their spiciness. Research shows that long-term exposure to capsaicin in rural processing settings can lead to asthmatic symptoms (Dörtbudak et al., 2004).