The Hustle in Ethiopia

Accurate unemployment numbers are hard to come by for Ethiopia. Suffice it to say they are higher than everyone would like. I spent some time giving these elusive statistics some thought. How do you represent them visually? How do you do it in a dignified manner without simply showing a poor person in need?

All across the city I live in there are people selling clothing, toiletries, cleaning supplies, snacks, lightbulbs, kids toys and other knickknacks via foot or small roadside shops. It doesn’t stop there. At one corner you can get your fans repaired and the opposite corner sit down and get a strong cup of coffee.

While it can sound romantic it is in fact hard work. And the margins can be thin based on your goods or services. Without a doubt, these people are hustling.

This is a longterm project which I hope to one day make into a book. All photos were shot on Kodak Portra 120. Each person gave their permission to be photographed and was paid.

Older Ethiopian sitting outside cabinet selling food
Ethiopian man selling brooms and mops on cobblestone road
man selling toys and belts on the street in Ethiopia
Ethiopian sewing clothes under shade.
Ethiopian woman selling grass for coffee ceremony on sidwalk