Changing the Lives of Ethiopian Women with the Pepper Shredder

Ethiopian Women

Red peppers are a valuable cash crop for small farmers in Ethiopia. An estimated 400,000 Ethiopian women process peppers by hand to create higher value products: dried flakes, seeds and powder.

Trad Pepper

The manual processing of hot peppers isn't just time consuming—it's dangerous.

Women traditionally flake hot peppers with their hands or in a mortar and pestle, leaving them covered in pepper oil and their eyes, noses, and throats burning from pepper dust in the air—causing serious health problems.

CTI is developing the Pepper Shredder, a small, hand cranked device that allows women to safely and efficiently process peppersincreasing their incomes and empowering them to become entrepreneurs. 

The Pepper Shredder makes pepper processing safer and more efficient for Ethiopian women.

Paired with a CTI grinder, the Pepper Shredder can:

  • Increase efficiency & income generation for rural women

  • Reduce women's exposure to harmful dust and oils

  • Empower women to become rising entrepreneurs in a male-dominated society

Pepper Eater

With the Pepper Shredder, a woman can safely shred high-quality pepper flakes more than twice as fast as she can by hand—an opportunity that can increase her income and financial independence.

Students at Stanford University originally developed the shredder, which they had called the "Pepper Eater", in the Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability course. In 2010, the students partnered with CTI to reengineer and distribute the shredder.

A new Pepper Shredderprototype was field tested with farmers in Ethiopia in the spring of 2012.

We are establishing local partners in Ethiopia and plan to build and distribute several shredders to pepper processors in Ethiopia for extended field testing. Ultimately, we will aim to produce 100 to 500 units in Ethiopia.


  • Goals: Make pepper processing safer and more efficient while increasing the income of women in Ethiopia. 
  • Progress: The Pepper Shredder prototype produces pepper flakes 2X faster than manual shredding. After seucuring in-country fabricators, we will conduct field trials with several women’s groups and co-ops in Ethiopia.
  • Learn more: Fact Sheet (PDF)

Pepper Shredder
A device that shreds dried peppers into higher-value flakes while limiting contact with hot pepper dust and oil.

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