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W.E. Do Good™. Low-cost Grain separating machine.

A low-cost, human-powered Teff Threshers for rural farmers in Ethiopia.

Photo of Gemechu Abraham
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The Human-Powered Teff Thresher transforms the arduous, unsanitary, and inefficient harvesting of Teff and is differentiated by its extreme affordability in both capital and operational costs. Our Teff Thresher has been designed to maximize threshing productivity from 2 lbs. in 14 hours using 5-7 people plus livestock to 7.5 lbs of grain in 14 hours using only 2 people operating our thresher. A simple, yet durable design with flat steel bars removes significantly more teff than traditional methods. Grain separation is also vital. To this end, we have designed a custom-built sieve with an inclined wall that minimizes loss of teff and reduces winnowing labor (the energy required to blow away chaff). In Ethiopia, traditional methods of threshing grains such as Teff (separating the grain head from the straw and separating the kernel from the head) include beating the plant on the ground or animals walking on it. The process is arduous, time intensive, and often keeps children out of school during harvest. Also, grain is mixed with dirt, stones, and animal feces, making it unsanitary and unhealthy, and much grain is left on the stalk. Ethiopian farmers lack the capital required to purchase traditional, automated threshers and are not able to pay for the fuel or electricity needed to operate them.


We aim to provides multiple social and economic impacts for several different beneficiaries in Ethiopia as follows: • Reduces poverty and increases self-sufficiency with higher crop yields and increased incomes for poor farmers • Reduces poverty and increases self-sufficiency through micro-enterprises started by women in poverty who will rent the Teff Thresher to farmers. • Reduces poverty and increases self-sufficiency through job creation for local artisans in Ethiopia.


We will be doing our work in Ethiopia. We currently have our third prototype on the ground in Ethiopia and are getting ready to do our field testing once the harvesting season for Teff starts.


  • Yes


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


  • Yes, for more than one year.


Based in Oregon, the purpose of W.E. Do Good™ is to create a social and economic impact on poor farmers and their families in Ethiopia. The overall strategy is to use a for-profit business model to enable the business to rapidly scale up the impact by reinvesting the profits back into the business.

Engineering and business students at San Diego State University formed W.E. Do Good™ to design and produce a low-cost, human-powered Teff Thresher with a sustainable, scalable, for-profit business model that can dramatically improve agronomic practices and impact poverty in Ethiopia. Ethiopia's 6.5 million teff farmers struggle to meet local demand - let alone growing demand from abroad - with limited access to seed varieties, fertilizers and modern machinery that would allow for higher yields. 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Brent Saulic

I think renting the Teff Thresher to farmers if a great idea. But making an extremely simple thresher that is extremely cheap would be ideal as well.  Like this bucket one?

It could be a very lucrative business to just rent a machine, or have a community rent one,  it could be such a great staple to the community. Is there a way you could design a large thresher which could be somewhat moblie, or could be taken apart and transported efficiently?
I can imagine smaller scale ones, that could be run off solar panels or diesel gas. 

Photo of Gemechu Abraham

Thank you for the feedback. Our big objective is to make it affordable being that many small scale farmers in Ethiopia do not have enough capital to afford the machines which are gas powered. I have come across the video you shared with me in my previous researches about thresher. The current thresher we have on the ground in Ethiopia is easy portable and can be moved from villages to village. thanks again for you input. Have a wonderful evening.