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The Man Who Aspires
to Convert Ethiopian Water into American Dollars

Abetu Guale, an Ethiopian immigrant, residing in Oakland California, began his research in 2001 on a lucrative commodity of the future. The outcome of his research became none other than the seemingly inexpensive product - water! He believed he was right on the mark since people in the West, looking for fresh water, have turned to bottled water and mineral water to avoid toxins and contaminants of tap water. Abetu, convinced that Ambo Mineral Water would successfully compete with all other mineral waters in the marketplace, approached Ambo Company of Ethiopia about importing a taste of home to the United States.

Ambo mineral water, also known as Tebel (holy water), is said to not only remain pure forever, but to exterminate bacteria and germ outside the bottle, as well as the ones imbedded inside. That was another reason Abetu chose to import Ambo Mineral Water to the United States of America. Ethiopians and Americans who frequent Ethiopian restaurants are now enjoying Ambo as part of their daily beverage.

How has this visionary young man managed to convert Ethiopian water into American dollars? It was not without hard work and a fortune. Abetu took his former boss and friend, Dr. Stephen Richmond, a scientist and merchant by his own right, as his partner and formed a company "Blue Nile Enterprises."

Abetu took a sample of Ambo Tebel to a nationally licensed laboratory in California for testing and analysis and got it certified and approved for import to the United States. Then he had the Ambo Mineral Water tasted by professional tasters and chefs who compared and contrasted it with Pierre, and other mineral waters. Once the experts and chefs tasted the unique flavor of Ambo Mineral Water and gave raving testimony, Abetu's confidence in Ambo grew even more. He sent the result of the laboratory to the managers of Ambo in Addis Abeba and placed a purchase order.

Unfortunately, about six weeks after the deal was finalized Abetu and Dr. Richmond received a disappointing fax message from Ambo management, which stated the company's inability to deliver the product due to technical problems. Dr. Richmond almost gave up; Abetu was naturally upset but persisted. The Ethiopian Consul General, Ato Taye Aske-Selassie, based in Los Angeles, California, interfered. Ambo's management apologized for the breach of contract. Abetu subsequently accepted the apology and issued another Letter of Credit.

After that, two containers of Ambo were supposed to arrive to the United States for a promotional purpose – one to the West Coast, another to Houston, Texas to reach in time for the 20th annual Ethiopian Football match week. Unfortunately, the containers were delayed in the port of Djibouti. They arrived too late to be of any use to the football week. The container in Houston was then diverted to Dallas, Washington DC and Virginia. The one which reached the port of Oakland, California, was distributed in California and Seattle, Washington respectively.

Currently, Ethiopian Restaurants in West and East Coast carry this product. In the future, however, Abetu and his partner, Dr. Richmond, anticipate reaching the main-stream American market. When that happens, Ethiopia, which depends solely on coffee export to earn hard currency, will have an additional source of cash flow. The arrival of Ambo in the United States has excited many. Ethiopians with new families couldn't wait to give a taste of home to their American-born children, and those who used to drink Whisky with Ambo back home couldn't believe they can once again have it the old way here in the U.S.

A dark cloud has recently hovered over Abetu's head, especially soon after Ambo's management announced a territory restriction, limiting Abetu's operation to the West Coast, and granting another distributor the exclusive right to handle the East Coast."This is totally unacceptable!" Abetu said. "We spent a great deal of time, money conducting research, facilitating the import, advertising, and distributing. We are the first, and persistent enough to put our resources together to venture into this operation. To snatch this deal out of our hands and give it to a certain group is unethical, if not illegal."

This type of unfair business practice will discourage any visionary person trying to do something good for his homeland. It will also damage Ethio-US commerce by adding mistrust in the equation and make potential investors think twice before getting into business with a company in Ethiopia.

I hope Ambo's Management will soon come to its senses and do what is right and avoid bad publicity. Abetu, a man of strong will and determination, has made a vow to continue pushing till Ambo mineral water is in every state, every supermarket, and convenience store.

Let us congratulate this young man for his vision and energy.