African Fashion Designers for Tomorrow
In close collaboration, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) and the African Fashion trend agency FA254 have set up an African design contest to rebrand the African Fashion and Textile scene. Young African Fashion designers are invited to submit their portfolios to FA254. After being chosen by an international jury chaired by Vogue Germany chief editor Christiane Arp the winner will have the possibility to present the collection during the Berlin Fashion Week 2015 and to produce their product with internationally renowned fashion companies.
From now until August 20, young African designers based are encouraged to submit a portfolio of their work to FA254′s official website to have the chance to take their work to the next level. Ten nominees will be chosen from the submitted portfolios under various categories namely Apparel, Accessories and Home Decoration. After a three months training program (October -- December 2014) the nominees will be required to offer improved designs. An international jury chaired by Vogue Germany chief editor Christiane Arp will then select the best design in each category in January 2015. The category nominees will have the opportunity to produce their product with internationally renowned fashion companies. Additionally, the overall winner will have the chance to present the collection during the Berlin Fashion Week 2015.
"We are very excited and looking forward to support and accompany the contest as it will put a spotlight on African Fashion as well as African Textile Production," comments Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa in Hamburg. "For the first time, it establishes a direct link between our CmiA cotton farmers who produce the sustainable raw material for the designs, African designers and the international Fashion scene." James Shikwati, Managing Director of IREN and associated partner of CmiA in Kenya adds: "At IREN-CmiA, we are happy to collaborate with FA254 to support the enormous fashion design talents in Africa. On top of that, we thereby aim to strengthen the Eastern Africa's domestic textile market."
FA254 was founded in 2013 by Waridi Schrobsdorff, a former Kenyan top model. With FA254 she aims to discover and promote new talents in order to rebrand Africa through young and creative minds. Schrobsdorff has been in the fashion business in the European market for years. "Our goal is to change people's minds. We have many talented young people who deserve the recognition. I'm very excited to call upon young Africans to share their talent with the world," concludes Waridi Schrobsdorff.
6-12-2014 World Day against Child Labour
Children of CmiA smallholder cotton farmers learn how to read and write
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 170 million children worldwide between the ages of 5 and 17 have to work. Standing up for the rights of children is a key issue for the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. In collaboration with the renowned American children's book author, Donald Grant, the initiative has created illustrations with child labour as the theme to inform people in the cotton regions about this important issue and to raise awareness for it.
"For many children in the world instead of having the opportunity to play and go to school, they are forced to perform hard physical labour on a daily basis. We are actively taking a stand against this issue and have thus incorporated the requirements of all ILO core labour standards into the CmiA criteria and control their compliance regularly on site. This means exploitative child labour is strictly forbidden," explains Christoph Kaut Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation. In order to communicate these requirements to farmers in a clear and comprehensible manner, the foundation has created illustrations with the prestigious American children's book author and illustrator Donald Grant. The aim of the illustrations is to educate about the dangers of child labour and show the smallholder farmers that compliance with the CmiA criteria has a positive impact on their lives and those of their families. The drawings depict the daily life of a smallholder farmer and are shown as part of training to allow people to draw parallels to their own lives. Examples with reference to the everyday life in a village illustrate measures against child labour and show that it pays to protect the welfare and future of children.
Grant, who lives as a freelance author and illustrator in Paris, has been traveling the CmiA project regions for weeks on assignment to get a sense of what motivates people and how the story should be told in order to be truly convincing. “I had to first of all understand how my audience ticks, what appeals to them, what they enjoy, what moves them. I think the stories work because they truly reflect what people see and experience every day. They can become immersed in the illustrations and identify with the characters."
Another focus of CmiA in the fight against child labour are the cooperation projects that promote the construction of schools, cafeterias, and school gardens and make it thus possible for many children in remote regions to even attend school.
Otto Group and Aid by Trade Foundation enable 2,900 children to attend school
2,900 children get a chance at education with the ceremonial opening of six schools in Zambia. The schools are the result of a social project to promote educational infrastructure in Zambia the Otto Group launched in cooperation with the Aid by Trade Foundation in July 2011.
The low level of education is one of the main reasons for minimal development in Zambia. This is where the school project initiated by the Otto Group and the Aid by Trade Foundation comes in. "Only through education can people lead independent lives and improve their living conditions through their own efforts. That is why the Cotton made in Africa initiative's goal has not only been focused on teaching smallholder farmers skills in growing cotton. We are also committed to creating educational opportunities for the farmers, their wives, and children," explains Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
"Reading, Writing, Arithmetic: For us, they are things we take for granted but for African children, unfortunately, an often unattainable dream. We are delighted to be able to contribute together with our partners to make this desire come true for 2,900 children of cotton farmers that are part of CmiA, including those in remote areas of Zambia, and that they now have the opportunity to go to school," said Andreas Streubig, Head of Corporate Responsibility at the Otto Group. Children in the rural areas of Zambia in particular have little chance to get an education: miles long, arduous journeys to school on foot, overcrowded classrooms without tables and benches as well as a lack of teaching materials are just some of the obstacles.
During this project, four schools were built, and two buildings were completely refurbished for use. All schools have been connected to the grid with solar panels installed on some and equipped with a significantly improved selection of textbooks. Moreover, children now have their own seat at new tables and benches and can work in peace, instead of learning in a confined space on the floor. School gardens were also constructed as part of the social project and sanitary facilities along with a total of 17 wells were built new.
The school children also received a special surprise thanks to the contribution by employees at the Otto Group who collected additional funds for the project. This made it possible to equip each classroom with black board geometry sets including a supply of chalk and pencils for the students.
The project is supported by the German Investment and Development Company (DEG) and the NWK Agri-Services local cotton company.
Demand for CmiA Cotton Grows Further
The well-known women's trousers specialist TONI based in Forchheim, Germany cooperates with Cotton made in Africa (CmiA). With a ten-part knitwear collection available from spring 2015, TONI supports the initiative and is thereby dedicated to improving the living conditions for African smallholders and sustainable cotton cultivation. The products can be purchased at upscale retailers.
Besides TONI more than 20 other textile companies and brands work with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and thus make an important contribution to the future of Africa.
International Fashion Revolution Day on 04/24/2014
To commemorate the collapse of the textile factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh exactly one year ago, the international Fashion Revolution Day calls on consumers to ask about the origin of their own clothing with this year's motto "Who made your clothes?". The Cotton made in Africa initiative supports the global day of action to raise awareness for smallholder farmers in Africa who are at the beginning of the textile chain.
10 percent of cotton traded worldwide comes from Sub-Saharan Africa. Cotton sales account for about 50 percent of the cash income of smallholder farmers. However, the income of 80 percent of African cotton farmers is still under $1.50 per day. In addition, traditional cultivation of the raw material can significantly harm the environment. This is an issue Cotton made in Africa is committed to. Since 2005, farmers have received training in environmentally friendly farming methods, and at the same time the initiative has established an alliance of textile companies which purchases the sustainably produced cotton and pays a licensing fee to the initiative. This revenue is re-invested in the African project regions and benefits the smallholder farmers and their families in the poorest regions of the world.
For Tina Stridde, the question "Who made you clothes?" is directly related to the origin of the raw material as she explains, "We work together with people who are at the beginning of the value chain and thus lay the foundation for sustainable textile production."
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Rösch launches first sleepwear collection made from 100% CmiA cotton that can be traced back to the cotton growing area in Africa
The textile value chain is known for its high complexity. During the process from raw material to final product, textiles pass through numerous production steps. Rösch provides maximum transparency in its textile value chain with its new sleepwear collection made from 100% Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) cotton that can be traced back to the African cotton growing region. The company is certified according to the newly adopted Hard Identity Preserved (HIP) standard of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF).
Since the Aid by Trade Foundation set the Hard Identity Preserved (HIP) standard for seamless traceability of CmiA cotton along the textile chain, Rösch will now launch the first collection made from 100% CmiA cotton according to the HIP standard: "By introducing the new Hard Identity Preserved Standard, the Aid by Trade Foundation will make a significant contribution to providing greater transparency throughout the textile value chain. This is a great achievement for us to be the first company to offer its customers products that can be traced back to the growing area of CmiA cotton in Africa," explains Andreas Söffker, Managing Director of Gerhard Rösch. Christian Barthel, Supply Chain Manager of the Aid by Trade Foundation adds, "We are pleased that Rösch has succeeded in fulfilling the requirements of the Hard Identity Preserved system and launching the first CmiA products certified according to the HIP standard. These requirements follow our demand for transparency and simultaneously pragmatic feasibility and can thus be used by a wide range of customers."
The requirements of the HIP standard include, among others, separate storage of cotton throughout all production stages of the value chain. Additional requirements for the entire textile value chain have been summarized by the Aid by Trade Foundation in its Chain of Custody (CoC) Guideline and published online. The Foundation provides its partners with additional support in monitoring the processing of CmiA cotton in the textile value chain through workshops and analysis of commodity flows. Consumers can recognize CmiA HIP products by the corresponding CmiA label.
Social and environmental responsibility in the company and its supply chain is part of the corporate philosophy of Gerhard Rösch GmbH. Since 2013, the family-run textile company from Tübingen, Germany has been a partner of the Cotton made in Africa initiative and supports improving the living conditions of currently 435,000 African smallholder farmers and their family members, including more than 3.2 million people.
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