I spent this morning meeting the 13 members of the SOS-Sahel team in Addis (one of IDE's partners, it's all a bit incestuous in the charity world) finding out more about the history of my honey project. I couldn't resist sharing the mangoes & passion fruits smoothie I had brought along. They now want us to launch innocent in Ethiopia but that's another story.
SOS Sahel have 10 projects around the country, which help smallholder farmers bring all kinds products to market. Here they are proudly showing off incense and aloe vera soap. Not sure why Tabede looks pregnant when he is of a rare fine build - must be the sun reverberating. It's pretty bright here.
Tabede and I then flew up north to Bahir Dar where I will be spending the next week or so visiting the bee cooperatives. It's a shame blogs can't (yet) communicate sounds and smells because this place is completely magical and exactly what I remembered of my time in Cameroon 10 years ago (with more internet cafes and mobile phones but the same fires in courtyards, herds of goats crossing the streets and cheerful children playing everywhere)
To try and give you an idea, here is the view from my hotel room:
And here are all my belongings neatly tucked into my wardrobe: colourful clothes, a collection of honey pots, the book about innocent and Emma H's rucksack. What more does one need?
I landed this morning in Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia, with only a 2 hour delay. Not a bad start. Luckily this box made the airport queue slightly more entertaining.
We then spent the afternoon touring round the supermarkets to find out more about local honey products.
What was my surprise to find not 3, not even 4 but 5 different brands, none of which advertise the moisture content like ours does. Where does our Amar honey fit in this fierce competitive environment? We will find out over the next two weeks. And yes, the seats in the hotel lobby really are as comfortable as they look: I might suggist them to Ethiopian Airlines.
In preparation for my trip, I wanted to find out what people thought of the Ethiopian honey I'm going to be working on, so I organised a little taste test in the office: Amar honey vs UNC (Un-Named Competitor.) It got a bit messy in the kitchen but we have a clear winner 13 votes to 2:
Olivia's reaction says it all: she didn't really like UNC.
But she liked Amar:
A good start to my honey-marketing project.
After Helen's trip to India, Andrew's in Malawi and JT's in Kenya, on Friday, I'm off to Ethiopia for 2 weeks to work on a honey project with IDE one of the innocent foundation's partners. I am in the marketing team and am going out to help beekeepers in the North of the country with branding and marketing plans for their honey. A nice change from smoothies after nearly 5 years at innocent.
At the moment, the honey looks like this:
Is it that important to have the moisture content on the front of the label? This, along with other branding aspects, is one of the areas I'm going to look at. The beekeepers want to start selling their honey in supermarkets in Addis Abeba (and not just local markets in the North) so it's all about making sure the honey pots look as great as possible.