Who and what was involved in producing my clothes – from field to fashion?

Was the cotton artificially irrigated, and does the female cotton farmer earn enough from the crop to send her children to school? Did the workers in the textile factory get sufficient breaks, and were enough fire prevention measures put in place in the factory? Many consumers do not know where their clothes come from, and under what conditions the cotton was grown and processed into textiles. For this reason, it is difficult to judge whether their clothing was produced in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly way.

To change this situation, Cotton made in Africa started the Bottom Up project in 2019 together with several partners: Solidaridad and MVO from the Netherlands, and the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative. We work together on environmentally friendly and socially responsible clothing production in Ethiopia, which can be traced from the cotton plant to the finished T-shirt, creating more transparency about our clothing.

Preventing exploitation and environmental damage

Cotton made in Africa has been active in Sub-Saharan Africa for years, training smallholder farmers in sustainable methods of cotton cultivation and creating safe working conditions in the cotton ginneries. Ethiopia is one of the eleven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where CmiA works. Fashion labels and textile companies are increasingly buying clothes from Africa, including from Ethiopia, due to the low labour costs and low taxes there. This is generally positive, as the textile sector creates jobs and generates potential for development. In addition, it keeps more of the value created within the country.

What are the aims of the project?

Together we pursue the goal of implementing higher environmental and social standards in the Ethiopian cotton and textile industry. Among other things, this means creating more transparency in Ethiopia’s cotton and textile production process and improving the quality of products. Sustainable verified cotton is to be cultivated in two cotton-growing regions of Ethiopia, to the benefit of cotton farmers and employees.

As part of our project, we also want to provide improved ecological and social services to the benefit of textile workers. A particular focus is on ensuring the cotton harvested in Ethiopia is processed locally and transparently in order to create more added value in the area. The sale of textiles is geared to both the local market and the international market—especially the EU market. The overall aim is to increase the general public’s knowledge and awareness of the opportunities and challenges in the textile sector.

Do you know what you are really wearing?

Together with our Bottom Up partners, we monitor the work being done vigilantly. Our aim is to create a sustainable basis for textiles from Ethiopia, as we are convinced that such development must be accompanied with the provision of training for farmers, secure working conditions, and environmentally friendly production. In this way, we want to ensure that the rapid rise of the Ethiopian textile industry does not lead to exploitation and damage to the environment.

In the Bottom Up project, we work with our partners to train cotton farmers and textile workers on sustainability, and we promote safe and sustainable working conditions throughout the textiles value chain. Through our project partner, Solidaridad, we also engage in lobbying and run workshops to ensure that important local government bodies support the project. We also want to ensure that international fashion companies know about and support the project, as this should be a significant boost to creating a sustainable textile industry. If fashion companies give customers a chance to have a look behind the scenes, it will enable consumers to wear garments that actively support the people behind our clothes, and reduce the ecological impact.

What can you do yourself?

Would you also like to contribute to a sustainable cotton and textile industry? If so, look for sustainability seals on the product, like the Cotton made in Africa label, to support cotton farmers in Africa. You can also ask your favourite brand how their products are produced. That is how you can make an active contribution to helping anchor environmental and social standards in the textile sector.

Preventing exploitation and environmental damage

Cotton made in Africa has been active in Sub-Saharan Africa for years, training smallholder farmers in sustainable methods of cotton cultivation and creating safe working conditions in the cotton ginneries. Ethiopia is one of the eleven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where CmiA works. Fashion labels and textile companies are increasingly buying clothes from Africa, including from Ethiopia, due to the low labour costs and low taxes there. This is generally positive, as the textile sector creates jobs and generates potential for development. In addition, it keeps more of the value created within the country.

What are the aims of the project?

Together we pursue the goal of implementing higher environmental and social standards in the Ethiopian cotton and textile industry. Among other things, this means creating more transparency in Ethiopia’s cotton and textile production process and improving the quality of products. Sustainable verified cotton is to be cultivated in two cotton-growing regions of Ethiopia, to the benefit of cotton farmers and employees.

As part of our project, we also want to provide improved ecological and social services to the benefit of textile workers. A particular focus is on ensuring the cotton harvested in Ethiopia is processed locally and transparently in order to create more added value in the area. The sale of textiles is geared to both the local market and the international market—especially the EU market. The overall aim is to increase the general public’s knowledge and awareness of the opportunities and challenges in the textile sector.

Do you know what you are really wearing?

Together with our Bottom Up partners, we monitor the work being done vigilantly. Our aim is to create a sustainable basis for textiles from Ethiopia, as we are convinced that such development must be accompanied with the provision of training for farmers, secure working conditions, and environmentally friendly production. In this way, we want to ensure that the rapid rise of the Ethiopian textile industry does not lead to exploitation and damage to the environment.

In the Bottom Up project, we work with our partners to train cotton farmers and textile workers on sustainability, and we promote safe and sustainable working conditions throughout the textiles value chain. Through our project partner, Solidaridad, we also engage in lobbying and run workshops to ensure that important local government bodies support the project. We also want to ensure that international fashion companies know about and support the project, as this should be a significant boost to creating a sustainable textile industry. If fashion companies give customers a chance to have a look behind the scenes, it will enable consumers to wear garments that actively support the people behind our clothes, and reduce the ecological impact.

What can you do yourself?

Would you also like to contribute to a sustainable cotton and textile industry? If so, look for sustainability seals on the product, like the Cotton made in Africa label, to support cotton farmers in Africa. You can also ask your favourite brand how their products are produced. That is how you can make an active contribution to helping anchor environmental and social standards in the textile sector.

About the Bottom up project

In the Bottom Up project, Cotton made in Africa is cooperating with MVO Nederland, the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative, and the Dutch organisation Solidaridad. The project is supported by the EU and runs from April 2019 to March 2022. For further information on the Bottom Up project please contact

info@abt-foundation.org