In Alaba we had to retrieve 2 more Pepper Eaters. One was with a woman’s cooperative, and the other was with a berbere merchant. Alaba was especially challenging because our friend Bruk, who helped us make contacts and translated for us during our first visit, was unable to come with us. So we ventured to the Ethiopian Government Rural Development Office to ask around for a few names that Bruk had given us. After a few awkward minutes of going from office to office, we found Hailu, a project manager at the Development Office. After we explained our situation to his boss, he was allowed to go with us to retrieve our prototypes and get feedback.
First, we headed to another woman’s cooperative who has experience making and selling stoves to generate income. But, since Alaba is the main pepper producing region in Ethiopia, every household also has an interest in processing peppers. Again, these women had seen value in the Pepper Eater, especially for their household, but told us they thought it was too small to use for income generation. After negotiating, the leader of the co-op agreed to pay 100 Birr for our prototype. However, especially with the end of Ramadan approaching, she did not have the cash on hand. Like the other women, she asked us to buy it on credit, and pay next week. Since we did not have a convenient connection to handle the transaction as in Ziway, Megan and I decided to give it to them for free. Since we had negogiated an actual deal, we considered it a legitimate “sale.”
Our final prototype was in the hands of Mamoush, a pepper merchant in Alaba. Megan, Hailu, and I then proceeded to head to the market to find Mamoush, since it was market day in Alaba. After asking one person, we were immediately led to Mamoush’s stand, as he is well known in Alaba. Like the previous merchants we talked to, he told us liked the idea, but that is was way too small for his purposes. When asked if he could return our prototype, he told us it would be impossible today, as another woman processor had it, and he did not have time to leave the bustling Ramadan market. We decided to cut our losses, and make our way back to Awassa for our final meeting.