10 years of Cotton made in Africa – 10 years of fashion with a heart and a sign for responsible fashion


Since it was founded in June 2005, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), launched by Dr. Michael Otto, and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative have successfully supported smallholders in Africa, protected the environment and established trade relationships between international textile companies and African cotton farmers on a level playing field. To mark the 10th anniversary, Dr. Michael Otto is investing €1 million into the newly-launched Cotton made in Africa cooperation program to continue supporting communities in rural Africa.

It was 10 years ago that Dr. Michael Otto laid the foundation for a socially and ecologically sustainable production of cotton from Africa and for helping African smallholder farmers to help themselves with the Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa initiative. What began with 150,000 cotton producers in three countries is now one of the largest projects in German development cooperation with Africa. In its anniversary year, the initiative is active in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries, cooperates with 650,000 smallholders, and reaches a total of over 5.5 million people. The smallholders have been able to increase their yields by approximately 20% during their partnership with CmiA. From 2008 to the end of 2014, more than 660,000 metric tons of ginned CmiA cotton were used for textiles worldwide and more than 100 million garments with the CmiA sustainability seal were put on sale by partner companies. These textiles represent responsible fashion and set an example for socially and ecologically sustainable economy. From 2008 to the end of 2014, licensed CmiA products brought in an income of almost €5 million for AbTF, which was able to invest it for the benefit of African farming families. The foundation once again improved its program service expense ratio in 2014 by almost 2% to 68.9%. This describes the effectiveness of the means employed to achieve foundation’s objectives in relation to overall expenditure. Overall, Cotton made in Africa is emphasizing that sustainability and economic viability do not have to be mutually exclusive and instead that all parties can profit from it.

Also in future, Cotton made in Africa will be devoting itself to the task of providing a raw material suitable for the mass market which reconciles economy and sustainability and from which smallholders profit directly. The CmiA cooperation program will also be launched to mark the initiative’s 10th anniversary. In the spirit of the foundation’s mission, it will support projects in the areas of education, health, the advancement of women, and natural conservation in the Cotton made in Africa growing regions. Project funding applications will come directly from the CmiA growing regions and be financed via contributions from private donors. Dr. Michael Otto is leading by example and provides the program with a starting capital of €1 million. 

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