After driving for six hours, while dodging suicidal donkeys, carts stacked high with corn, and small Izuzu shipping trucks, we arrived in Awasa. Within 10 minutes, Atkelt, a manager of Selam Awassa, met us at our hotel. He took us down to Awassa Lake just as the sun was setting. I was a beautiful way to start the trip.
The next day we took a tour of Selam’s facilities, and it was impressive! Their facilities were state of the art, and all of the workers were highly skilled. Selam Awassa has two parts: one is a vocational school and the other is commercial production to support the school. Selam has manufactured everything from water pumps, to wheat threshers, to a 35-kW hydro turbine.
After seeing all of the facilities, Moses, a trained well technician, took us to a professional miller’s shop in Awassa. This miller was able to output 400 kg of pepper flakes in 9 hours! When he saw our prototype he laughed at the size. There was no way our small prototype could even compete. But then I asked to see how he was able process so much berbere, and he took me through the mill house to a room in the back. There stood an electric pepper grinder 2-meters tall! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it run, but they were willing to open it up and show me how it worked. It used the concept of a hammer mill to shred the peppers into small flakes. The mill house workers had custom built this machine at an estimated cost of more than 10,000 Ethiopian Birr ($1000).
Our next stop was Dama, a furniture manufacturer who partnered with teams from Extreme Affordability in previous years. The owner, Fekadu, was extremely welcoming and showed us his current production facilities. He is currently producing and selling two products from our class: The Corn Sheller and The Mighty Matad.