This year's Stakeholder Conference of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) was held from September 7 to 8 in Munich and was attended by over 100 experts in the textile value chain from over 20 countries. The two ends of the textile production chain met, with companies and brands like OTTO, Ernsting's family, Engelbert Strauss, Sportscheck and Jack & Jones at one end and cotton producers from Africa at the other end. They discussed how to achieve sustainability in the field, transparency along the supply chain, and new communication strategies for trading sustainable products.
Helmut Fischer, Head of the Division “Sustainability Standards” at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), opened this year's annual conference and underlined the importance of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) as one of the main standards for sustainable cotton. Richard Rogers, Senior Program Officer for Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation summed up his work with CmiA and COMPACI which has spanned almost 10 years and said: "We have learned to listen to the smallholders. The Aid by Trade Foundation has done a good job of raising the interest of textile companies and brands in African cotton. My wish for the future would be that companies would pay as much attention to their value chains and, more importantly, to the farmers as they do to the consumers."
Once again, the conference followed the thread from field to fashion. The increased significance of sustainable cotton and textiles is fuelling the demand for transparency in the supply chain. Cotton made in Africa therefor offers solutions which can be easily put into practice with the help of new technologies and expert knowledge. The systems required to guarantee traceability are already in place and the databases are just waiting to be filled, according to Sanjay Gupta of Direction Software Solutions specialized in IT-based solutions for a transparent value chain. The participants included Anne Pattberg of PwC, expert in business philosophy Dominic Veken, Claudia Gersdorf of Viva con Agua, Dörte Lehne of OTTO, and Jaswinder Bedi, Manager of a vertically integrated textile factory in Uganda, and they all agreed that any sustainability strategy must be translated into a persuasive message which ultimately communicates the product to the customer.
Another item on the agenda was the training for the smallholders - a special service by COMPACI and CmiA. Representatives of the cotton companies and agricultural experts discussed how to cater even more effectively to the needs of the smallholders and concluded that gender-specific course content, new technologies, and the integration of food and cash crops must be central to the CmiA curriculum.
COMPACI (Competitive African Cotton Initiative)
The Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) was founded in 2008 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on the back of the successful Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) pilot, with a view to subsidizing the income of African cotton farmers. The DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH) and the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) were instructed to put the plans into action. In the first phase, COMPACI concentrated on Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa and on Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia in the south-east of Africa. Then the initiative was expanded in the second phase to Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
On the occasion of the world water week, the community project “Drop for Life” for clean drinking water and hygiene in the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) growing regions in rural Mozambique has been successfully completed. It was implemented at the initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), founding organization of CmiA, together with German retailer OTTO, CARE International, the German Investment and Development Corporation (DEG) with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as the cotton company Plexus. At the end of the project, Dr. Michael Otto, founder of AbTF, and other CmiA partners traveled to Mozambique to at-tend the ceremonial handover.
Since 2015, the CmiA-partners CARE, DEG, OTTO and Plexus have teamed up to support improved water, sanitation, and hygiene provision for the rural population in the Cotton made in Africa growing regions of Mozambique. The partners invested a total of €300,000 to enable more than 50,000 people in 20 villages to have access to fresh drinking water for the first time. They also benefited from hygiene measures as a basic requirement for improved living conditions. Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Foundation, was delighted with the results: “Drop for Life is a community project which secures the population’s access to a basic human need in rural Africa: clean drinking water supply and hygienic living conditions. Experiencing the joy and enthusiasm of the village inhabitants here in Mozambique and seeing their commitment to their boreholes lays the foundation for a prosperous project that will sustain for the benefit of the village communities.” “The most impressive moment for me is to come to a village and to see that the village inhabitants have changed their behavior; that they are using their latrine, that they are getting clean water from a borehole that will last for 20 to 30 years”, adds Nic Dexter, Project Manager at CARE Mozambique.
By mid-2016, 10 boreholes were repaired, 10 boreholes built, and sanitary facilities at 15 village schools have been constructed from which more than 5,000 pupils can profit. Prior to this, more than 30,000 people took part in awareness-raising measures to promote health issues in 20 different villages of the cotton cultivation region Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. They learned about the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation provision as well as how to build and maintain sanitary facilities themselves, thereby securing the sustainability of the project even after completion. First successes of the project have already been achieved: Diarrhoeal diseases that occur mainly through contaminated drinking water and causes malnutrition problems especially for young children could have been reduced from 46% at the begin-ning of the project to 10% at the end of the project. A total of 20 convening committees set up specifically for this purpose will also ensure the sustainable use of the boreholes and latrines that have been put in place and act as a point of interface to the rural village population. 50% of its group members are women.
To find out more about the project and the story behind have a look at the video interview with Dr. Michael Otto and the video interview with the WASH project representatives.
CARE International is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and delivering lifesaving assistance in emergencies. In Mozambique, CARE is working alongside people in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the country to enable people to get the resources they need to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Access to clean drinking water is one of life’s most basic needs, and CARE is working with its partners to ensure that the most vulnerable, especially the women and girls, gain access to clean water and adopt good hygiene and sanitation practices. CARE also works to build the capacity of local people to manage their resources in sustainable ways, training local committees to maintain and service the water points that are built. These efforts, together with work done to promote sustainable agriculture, improve nutrition among mothers and young children, and better manage the natural resources on which so many lives depend, are leading to improvements in the lives of the people and part-ners with whom CARE works. http://care.org.mz
As part of the Otto Group, OTTO is one of the most successful e-commerce companies and the largest online retailer in Germany for fashion and lifestyle for the end customer. We generate approximately 90 percent of our overall turnover via otto.de and other specialist online shops. You can find all you need to know on the subject of “OTTO and Sustainability” here.
Jack & Jones - one of Europe’s leading producers of menswear - cooperates with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative to combine fashion with sustainability. As first CmiA Demand Alliance partner in Denmark, Jack & Jones now offers clothes carrying the CmiA seal which are completely made in Uganda - from cotton field until finished product. By purchasing textiles with the CmiA sustainability seal consumers can directly support to improve the living conditions of smallholder cotton farmers, protect the environment and create job opportunities within the textile value chain for the local communities in Uganda.
As first Danish textile brand JACK & JONES now offers clothes that carry the Cotton made in Africa sustainability seal. Special about these items are the added values for the people producing them across the complete textile value chain in Uganda. “In JACK & JONES we love cotton and it is our most important raw material. Through our ambitious Cotton Strategy we want to support that cotton is grown under better social and environmental conditions. Our partnership with Cotton Made in Africa supports this goal”, says Dorte Rye-Olsen, Sustainability Manager at JACK & JONES and adds “For our CmiA labelled products we have taken a further decisive step. By partnering with Fine Spinners Ltd. - a vertically integrated textile company based in Kampala - we are establishing a fully integrated textile production chain from field to fashion in Uganda. We can thereby increase the textile value addition within the cotton producing country and take care that all our CmiA labelled products can be completely traced back within our textile value chain from the final product in the store down to the South-Western CmiA growing region in Uganda.”
For Tina Stridde, Managing Director of CmiA, the cooperation with JACK & JONES and the recent development from Cotton to Textiles made in Africa initiates a major shifting point in the history of CmiA and for the textile industry in Uganda: “With JACK & JONES we have won a partner that invests in long-term relationships between the Ugandan cotton and textile industry and the international consumer market. Thereby, CmiA smallholder farmers, workers along the textile production chain in Uganda as well as consumers worldwide can directly profit. We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with JACK & JONES where CmiA cotton lays the basis for their engagement in Uganda.”
CmiA labelled products directly support smallholder cotton farmers who stand at the beginning of the textile supply chain to produce a sustainable raw material for the textile supply chain. The farmers profit from fair working conditions and learn how to improve their livelihoods and that of their families. Every purchase of a product bearing the official wine-red CmiA seal furthermore helps to protect the environment as CmiA excludes the utilization of GMO seeds or hazardous pesticides, excludes irrigation and bans cutting of primary forests.
JACK & JONES The story of JACK & JONES begins in 1990 when BESTSELLER sends a young, fiery soul to the Oslo fashion fair with a modest, but carefully chosen collection aimed at young men. The reception exceeds all expectations and the creation of a new menswear brand is a reality. In the following years JACK & JONES manifests itself as one of the strongest jeans brands on the market and within a few years, the brand has several hundred stores. Today JACK & JONES is one of Europe’s leading producers of menswear with more than one thousand stores in 38 countries and thousands of wholesale partners all over the world. Jeans are still regarded the backbone of JACK & JONES’ business. We continue to have a high level of expertise when it comes to the craftsmanship, quality and design of jeans, and JACK & JONES is nowadays defined and represented by seven unique brands: JACK & JONES VINTAGE CLOTHING, PREMIUM by JACK & JONES, ORIGINALS by JACK & JONES, CORE by JACK & JONES and JACK & JONES TECH, JACK & JONES JEANS INTELLIGENCE and JACK & JONES FOOTWEAR The CmiA t-shirts are designed under CORE by JACK & JONES.
KID INTERERIOR, specialised in home textiles with a typically Scandinavian modern and minimalistic design touch, joins Cotton made in Africa (CmiA). The company is the first CmiA Demand Alliance Partner in Norway. By cooperation with CmiA KID INTERIOR supports fair working conditions for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and helps to protect the environment. All home textiles by KID INTERRIOR that carry the CmiA quality label are produced on the African continent and thereby create job opportunities within the African textile value chain.
By sourcing CmiA certified cotton for its products Kid Norway sets an example for sustainable textiles in Norway. “With Cotton made in Africa we have voted for a well-recognized sustainability standard that offers us several added values our customers and we as a company can profit from: CmiA helps us to engage for hundred thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa who produce the high-quality fibre for our products. We additionally protect our precious natural resources and can offer our customers products in the same high quality and style KID is known for,” says Stian Brandhagen, Head of CSR at KID INTERIOR. For its production, KID INTERIOR works with MNS Manufacturing Plc in Ethiopia. The Turkish-based textile company has opened its vertically integrated factory in Ethiopia in 2013 and has thereby created job opportunities for several hundred Ethiopians.
For Tina Stridde, Managing Director of CmiA, the cooperation with KID INTERIOR marks a decisive step within the history of CmiA: “Scandinavian textiles are known for its quality and style. KID shows us now that companies can adhere to quality as well as design values while engaging for sustainability. It is the best proof that sustainability in fashion is possible and the new trend.”
CmiA cotton is cultivated under strict ethical standards. Independent organizations regularly monitor whether fair working conditions are ensured for CmiA smallholder farmers. Trainings enable them to increase their yields and thereby income. By purchasing a product bearing the official wine-red CmiA label, consumers also help to preserve endangered primary forests, to keep the cotton GMO-free and to save one of the most precious resources of the world - water. As CmiA farmers only practice rain-fed cultivation, a t-shirt produced with CmiA-cotton saves more than 500 litres of water. Community protects additionally help the farmer families to get access to school education and empowers women on their way to more independence.
About Kid Interior
Kid Interiør was founded in 1937, and is a nationwide company for textiles, home & living, offering a large variety of curtains, bed linen and other interior products in Norway. We have more than 130 company-owned store. Our mission is to inspire and make every home a beautiful home, whilst respecting workers right, contributing to a better environment and give consumers good quality products.
KID Interiør has started to implement more sustainable cotton in all cotton products, and has a vision to have 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 in all cotton products. Get to know more: www.kid.no / www.instagram.com/kidinterior
OTTO will be shining the spotlight on the subject of sustainability in its 360° campaign starting on July 19. The main scene will be an emotional TV commercial which will draw consumer attention to sustainable cotton from the Cotton made in Africa initiative.
OTTO will use the TV commercial to tell the moving story of the sustainably grown cotton, having had an advertisement produced on the issue of sustainability for the first time ever. The film footage conveys impressions of Africa and Germany and seeks to raise awareness of sustainable fashion among consumers.
"We want the campaign to call attention to the issue and engender a sense of responsibility," explains Dr. Michael Heller, Member of the OTTO Management Board for Categories and Deputy Spokesperson. "OTTO has been backing Cotton made in Africa for over 10 years now and helps almost 700,000 African smallholders to grow cotton more efficiently and more sustainably. What is more, 75 per cent of our own-brand products will be made with Cotton made in Africa and by 2020 the figure will have risen to 100 per cent." The relevant products advertised on otto.de carry the burgundy Cotton made in Africa label and the GOODproduct-Siegel label which verifies the credentials of all sustainable products at OTTO.
"In promoting fashion from the Cotton made in Africa initiative, we are not cutting back on quality or style," said Anja Dillenburg, Head of Corporate Responsibility at OTTO, "but we are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. This is good both in terms of preserving the natural resources and protecting the health of the people who grow our cotton. It is therefore a positive way to make consumers a little more conscious of sustainability as they go through life," added Dillenburg. "It is a great result for us to see that our partner OTTO is consistently changing over to purchasing sustainable raw material," said Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa. "In broadcasting this advertisement, OTTO is demonstrating how important the Cotton made in Africa initiative is for the company. It additionally shows that it offers the customer genuine value added. Shining the spotlight on the concerns of smallholders in a large-scale advertising campaign is a major step forwards for the future."
The 30-second commercial will be seen on TV as from today (July 19, 2016). It will be accompanied by background information and videos on social media, YouTube and otto.de, including an interview with Dr. Michael Otto, founder of the Aid by Trade Foundation and supporter of the Cotton made in Africa initiative.
Get to know more about the campaign and watch the videos here: www.otto.de/nachhaltigkeit.
To watch the TV spot directly, follow this link.
As part of the Otto Group, OTTO is one of the most successful e-commerce companies and the largest online retailer of fashion and lifestyle in Germany. OTTO generates about 85 percent of its total revenues through otto.de and other specialist online shops.
Laura Chaplin, the granddaughter of the world-famous actor Charlie Chaplin, is lined up to start working immediately as an ambassador for the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. The initiative is committed to sustainable cotton to fight for better living conditions for hundreds of thousands of families in Africa and, at the same time, to ensure a sustainable basic supply of raw materials for the fashion industry. The designer will create a collection for Cotton made in Africa under the new cooperation agreement. First designs to emerge from the collection in the making, Smile by Laura Chaplin, will be revealed at the Ethical Fashion Show during Berlin Fashion Week.Laura Chaplin had a sheltered upbringing as the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, surrounded by artists and celebrities at the home of the world-famous actor. Instead of taking these circumstances for granted, she is fighting to raise awareness for the needs of people who have grown up in a less privileged world. In her role as ambassador for Cotton made in Africa, she is making a stand for the African smallholders and their families.Cotton made in Africa and Laura Chaplin are united in the goal of creating a hope and a stable future for people all over the world. This common purpose led to the idea of a joint collection with a view to drawing further attention to this matter. "Working with Cotton made in Africa is a labor of love for me and I am looking forward to getting started on the collection," said Laura Chaplin. With her collection Laura Chaplin would like to call attention to the people behind the Cotton made in Africa initiative the African smallholder cotton farmers and their families. The aim is to use fashion as a vehicle to put a face to their name in the world of fashion and to add to the enjoyment of life for both the families of the smallholders and the consumers. As an ambassador of Cotton made in Africa, she is joining the initiative in fighting to give the people in Africa prospects in their own country so that they do not need to leave their homeland and embark on the dangerous journey to Europe in order to realize their dreams. The Smile by Laura Chaplin collection will be produced by the Fashion for Teams mail order and delivery service. Sustainability criteria will be met, from the cultivation of the raw material to the making of the end product. Fashion for Teams is a social enterprise which does not work for its own profit. The proceeds from the collection will be used by the Cotton made in Africa initiative for the benefit of the CmiA smallholders, their families and the conservation of nature. The first designs in the Smile by Laura Chaplin collection will make their debut appearance at Fashion Week in the Fashion for Teams booth at the Ethical Fashion Show at the Postbahnhof in Berlin from June 28 to 30, 2016.
About Fashion for Teams
Fashion for Teams is a mail order and delivery service for sustainable textiles which has been set up as a social enterprise. Fashion for Teams was started by the ATAKORA Fördergesellschaft which was founded in 2005. It is possible to order individual products with style and team spirit. The proceeds from Fashion for Teams benefit the Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa initiative for the protection of the environment and the improvement of living conditions of African cotton farmers. For further information, please visit www.fashionforteams.com
Photo credit: chrissinger.com