This section shows some of the questions which we are frequently asked. Other information on Cotton made in Africa, Aid by Trade Foundation, our partners or on your business opportunities in the Cotton made in Africa initiative are shown on the relevant pages of our website. If you have any questions, please use the contact form.
How do farmers profit from Cotton made in Africa? Open or Close
As part of the Cotton made in Africa initiative, the smallholder farmers and their families benefit in many ways. Participating farmers learn modern, efficient and sustainable farming methods as well as managerial expertise. This allows them to increase yields and incomes and thus improve their living conditions and those of their families on their own. In addition to trainings, the initiative realizes cooperation projects in collaboration with African partners such as the cotton companies and farmer organizations as well as retailers of demand alliance and organizations in development cooperation. Their primarily focus on improving school infrastructure (construction of schools, adult literacy, etc.), the status of women or the rural infrastructure. Read more generally about the impact of CmiA here.
What does the Cotton made in Africa label signify? Open or Close
Cotton made in Africa stands for cotton from Sub-Saharan Africa, which has been produced with respect to people and nature. As part of Cotton made in Africa small farmers are assisted to improve their living conditions and those of their children. Child labor, dangerous pesticides or genetically modified cotton are strictly forbidden. Smallholder farmers get a fair and timely payment and are trained in modern, efficient and sustainable cotton farming practices. This helps the farmers generate higher yields and incomes. Read more about it here.
Why is the work of Cotton made in Africa important? Open or Close
Cotton plays a key role in fighting poverty and makes a major contribution to food security in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. So far, this potential has often been underused to further economic development. Against this background, the Cotton made in Africa initiative has set itself the goal since 2005 to sustainably improve the living conditions of cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our commitment is thus not based on donations, but rather, on the principle of helping African smallholder farmers to help themselves through trade by activating market forces. Read more about the background here.
How does Cotton made in Africa, organic cotton and Fairtrade certified cotton differ? Open or Close
All initiatives share the mission, to offer a sustainable alternative to conventional textile production, to create transparency and support the people in the growing regions. Organic cotton prohibits the use of inorganic fertilizers or chemical pesticides. Fairtrade defines in its standards a fair minimum price for cotton and an additional Fairtrade prime, which helps the farmers to get a fair price for their work. The Cotton made in Africa increases the demand for African cotton on the international retail markets and thus improves the environmental, social and economic living conditions of African smallholder farmers and their families and protects the environment in the cotton-growing countries. Therefore, CmiA relies on activating market forces.
How does Cotton made in Africa keep its value promise to grow cotton in accordance with its defined sustainability criteria? Open or Close
Compliance with the criteria of the CmiA standards by cotton farmers, cotton companies, and the gins is reviewed on a regular basis as part of the verification process. CmiA commissions independent and qualified organizations (EcoCert and AfriCert) to conduct the verification. This ensures that the initiative's value proposition of aiding smallholder farmers, and their families in Africa to achieve better living conditions is observed. Regularly scheduled verification of the Cotton made in Africa standards ensure that the exclusion criteria are adhered to, and review the continuous improvement in compliance with CmiA sustainability requirements. This ensures that cotton companies and cotton farmers change their processes in terms of sustainable production for people and the environment fundamentally and sustainably.
How does Cotton made in Africa deal with genetically modified seed? Open or Close
There is a current general trend in some African countries towards using transgenic cotton seeds. Cotton producers expect these modified seeds to considerably improve productivity and/or pest resistance. This directly violates the CmiA exclusion criteria (No. 14, exclusion of GMO seeds). There is and will be no Cotton made in Africa from genetically modified seed.
How does Cotton Made in Africa handle the use of pesticides during cotton cultivation? Open or Close
The so-called "white gold" is the main source of income for smallholder families, but the plant is very susceptible to pests and weeds. The use of pesticides is subject to strict guidelines CmiA operates on the threshold principle which means a pesticide will only be used on a field, when the impact of pests on the field is measurably too high. With this approach not only is the use of pesticides reduced, but farmers learn to distinguish pests from beneficial insects step by step and how to use them for cultivation.
How does Cotton made in Africa fight against child labour? Open or Close
Cotton made in Africa supports the fight against child labour by improving the living conditions through higher incomes and through community projects. CmiA upholds the Conventions 138 and 182 of the International Labour Organization (ILO): Any form of exploitative child labour, labour that harms the health and development of children, and any type of child labour that is performed outside of the family, is strictly forbidden according to the Cotton made in Africa criteria. This also applies to child trafficking and forced labour.
Participate & Consumers
Can I use the CmiA images and logos displayed on the homepage? Open or Close
The materials and CmiA logos may only be used in conjunction with Cotton made in Africa. The images of the home page are freely available for editorial purposes and partners. Rights of use are held by the Aid by Trade Foundation, Hamburg, and are fully retained even where images are electronically transferred to an archive. The logos may be printed / published without charge. When using graphics, images or pictures embedded in this website, please indicate the full copyright status. Credit is to state explicitly and itemized unless otherwise expressly agreed: © Aid by Trade Foundation. Images made by Albert Watson may only be used in connection with reporting on the exhibition "Albert Watson: Visions feat. Cotton made in Africa" that has taken place in the Haus der Photographie, Deichtorhallen Hamburg. Images may not be cut or cropped. When they are published in print media, please let us have a specimen copy, and when published in electronic media please send us brief notification. When linking to or referring our website please use: www.cottonmadeinafrica.org. For more information about using the logo partner companies get more advice here.
Why is Cotton made in Africa available in so many brands? Open or Close
"Cotton made in Africa" is an ingredient brand, i.e. it is a kind of quality label showing that the product contains sustainably grown African cotton. The label is always used alongside an existing brand or in the garment ranges of the partner companies as an "additional quality" contained in the product, and is also identified as such. Many Cotton made in Africa products are marked with a Bordeaux-red label, enabling customers to recognise it easily.
Where can I buy Cotton made in Africa products? Open or Close
Currently more than 25 textile companies and brands are part of the demand alliance, including Puma, Tchibo, s. Oliver, Tom Tailor, Realiable Hosiery, the Rewe Group, Engelbert Strauss and the Otto Group. They offer products with the CmiA seal. By purchasing these products, you can make a direct contribution and support African smallholder farmers and their families.
What kind of products are made of Cotton made in Africa? Open or Close
Practically all textile products, apart from shoes: T-shirts, jeans, trousers, sweatshirts, knitted pullovers, underwear, nightwear, hosiery, bed linen, bedding, mattresses.
What is the quality of Cotton made in Africa? Open or Close
Cotton made in Africa is of good social, ecological and of course also technical quality: it is medium staple cotton with relatively long fibres, and gives versatile yarns which are processed worldwide to make materials for fashion garments and home textiles. The high quality of African cotton is due not least to cultivation by smallholder farmers and hand picking in fully mature condition. Its high quality is improved still further in the framework of the Cotton made in Africa initiative. For example in some project countries cotton bags are being used to replace the plastic bags otherwise used in harvesting. That helps to prevent contamination of the harvested cotton by plastic remains. In Zambia, the cotton is also cleaned manually after harvesting to remove any further contamination, such as feathers, before ginning (the next stage of processing).
How can I follow and support the work of Cotton made in Africa? Open or Close
This is possible in various ways. In order to inform you about our work, we regularly send our CmiA newsletter, which summarizes our main topics. You can also follow us on Youtube, get engaged with Betterplace for specific projects, contact us via Facebook and share your interest in Cotton made in Africa on twitter. In addition, you have the chance to support our work and thereby make a valuable contribution to the future of hundreds of thousands of people in Africa by purchasing CmiA products. For companies or dealers who want to buy CmiA cotton and thereby significantly contribute to support smallholder farmers and their families, visit our section "Get Involved". You are a journalist and would like to get regular information about Cotton made in Africa? You are very much welcome to subscribe to our press distribution list. Press kits and other material can be found here.
Why is CmiA cotton traded at market prices? Open or Close
Cotton made in Africa supports smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by building up a global alliance of textile companies. This alliance explicitly asks for CmiA cotton and pays a license fee to the foundation, which is charged at the end of the textile value chain. This mechanism allows CmiA cotton to be traded at world market prices and prevent upcharges in the further processing stages and, ultimately, a higher price of the final product. Thereby, CmiA brings together sustainability and profitability, because in spite of the increased interest in sustainable products many consumers are up to date not yet ready to pay more for these products. The proceeds from licensing fees collected from the companies are reinvested to benefit smallholder farmers in the project countries - regardless of the consumer's demand.
Why is CmiA used in the mass market? Open or Close
Every product that bears the Cotton made in Africa seal and that is introduced into the market, increases the demand for African cotton and generates new sales opportunities for African cotton farmers. The volume-based license fee paid by partnering textile companies are reinvested in the project areas in Sub-Saharan Africa to benefit smallholder farmers and their families - through economic and agricultural trainings, support for women, access to safe drinking water, education or micro-credits. Thanks to the growing demand alliance sales of Cotton made in Africa-cotton has steadily increased in recent years and more and more people in Sub-Saharan Africa could be supported.
How is CmiA-cotton traced back in the textile value chain? Open or Close
We make a distinction between the Hard Identity Preserved (HIP) and Mass Balanced (Mass Balanced MB) variants for further processing of cotton. Both systems guarantee full traceability from cultivation to the cotton gin right through to the spinning mill. After these phases, the difference in the two systems is noticeable, and the degree of transparency changes accordingly. In the Cotton made in Africa system, partners have a choice how they would like to support the work of Cotton made in Africa. The Mass Balanced system works similar to the one used in green electricity. Under the material balanced system, quantity control is undertaken at the spinning company level. Companies that partner with the Cotton made in Africa initiative and employ CmiA via the mass balance control system support the initiative's work in the project areas with their volume-dependent licensing fees. The Hard Identity Preserved system offers complete transparency. Cotton can be completely tracked the entire way from the cotton field to the finished product.
Questions about the cooperation between the Aid by Trade Foundation and the initiative "Platz schaffen mit Herz"? Open or Close
1. How does the Aid by Trade Foundation benefit from the "Platz schaffen mit Herz" (literally translates to “making room with a heart”) initiative? Discarded and donated garments and shoes are being collected via Hermes parcel shipping and transferred within Germany - to SOEX, the world market leader for disposal and recycling of textiles. From there, the sorted clothing is being sold to distributors located both at home and abroad. All revenues are donated to various non-profit organisations – one of them is the Aid by Trade Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa initiative.
2. How are the donations used by AbTF? We will use the proceeds primarily to fund our social projects in the rural cotton growing regions. Together with our corporate partners, cotton companies, and the public sector, we support projects in these regions aimed at improving the school situation in rural areas or helping women become financially independent by funding their micro-enterprises. We are also committed to hygiene measures and improving the drinking water supply of the communities through building wells as well as informing and educating the local people.
3. Won't the donated old clothing hurt the market in Africa? We have considered this question in-depth and our answer to this is an unequivocal "no". The sweeping claim that exports of donated clothing are the major cause for the decline of the textile industry on the African continent is outdated. In fact, poor production conditions such as frequent power outages, lack of transport infrastructure, poor education levels, low productivity, or government intervention in private enterprises as well as the cheap textile imports from Asia have contributed largely to the fact that no significant textile industry has developed or existing businesses had to close in Sub-Saharan Africa.
4. Why is the AbTF or CmiA cooperating on this project? On the one hand participating in "Platz schaffen mit Herz" (literally translates to “making room with a heart”) will provide us with potential revenue that is of course welcomed and needed to co-finance our social projects in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, and Burkina Faso.
Moreover, as an initiative that is involved with cotton thus indirectly with textiles, we have a great interest when it comes to clothing and what happens to it at the end of its life cycle.
People also benefit from deliveries of used clothing to markets such as Kenya and Tanzania. To begin with, used clothes are a very affordable purchase option for, in some instances, highly fashionable and high quality clothes that many African consumers could not afford new. Many Africans appreciate the wide variety of fashion styles, sizes, and quality available the "Mitumba" markets offer. In addition to the customers, African traders and tailors who tailor the clothing according to customers' needs also benefit from the supply of second-hand clothing. According to estimates, up to 30 percent of informal work in Africa is dependent upon trade with second-hand clothing. A new source of employment has evolved from trade with second-hand clothes for many Africans who would otherwise have no work or only by the day.
5. Is it not a contradiction to support the cotton farmers in Africa and at the same time indirectly benefit from second-hand clothing supplies? The Aid by Trade Foundation is committed to improving the living conditions of African smallholder farmers through its Cotton made in Africa initiative. We came here with the goal of wanting to change something, in particular for people in remote rural areas, smallholder farmers, and their families. The proceeds from this collaboration support our work in Africa and the social projects from which especially women and children of smallholder farmers benefit. In this respect, second-hand clothing donations can have a positive effect in Africa.
6. Is the AbTF involved in other second-hand clothing projects? No, the cooperation with "Platz schaffen mit Herz" (German for Make room - with heartfelt feelings) is the only used clothing project in which we are involved.
7. Who else is involved in the campaign? Other non-profit organizations involved are the Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (NABU) (German for German Society for Nature Conservation), and the Welthungerhilfe.
8. How does Platz schaffen mit Herz differs from other collections? Regardless of whether the provider that collects the used clothes is a non-profit or commercial operation, used clothes are a commodity. Although many drop-off boxes for used clothes bear the insignia of a non-profit organization, only about one percent of the clothes collected from closets actually provide needy people in Germany with textiles. The demand in Germany is adequately covered and the closets of charitable organizations are well filled. The initiative “Platz schaffen mit Herz” also re-sells all collected clothing. However, all revenues made are being distributed 100% to non-profit organisations, supporting ecological and social projects. Another difference lies in the method for donating clothes: Instead of putting second-hand clothes in a drop-off box as is customary, donated clothing is now shipped via Hermes courier service. The advantage this has is that the textiles are optimally protected, stay clean and dry, and thus can actually be further used as clothing. This is important in order to generate the highest possible proceeds for non-profit organizations.
Get to know more about the campaign here.
Why do CmiA and BCI cooperate? Open or Close
The initiatives are pursuing several goals with this cooperation: On the one hand, the aim is to provide textile companies and traders with access to sustainable cotton and consequently increase the sale of sustainable African cotton on the world market along with the economic and environmental sustainability of smallholder farmers. On the other hand, the aim of the partnership is to improve the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This new partnership agreement extends the interim partnership already in existence since July 2012 on a permanent basis. Both initiatives remain independent organizations; BCI will continue working with their partner brands and retailers and will provide them with BCI cotton produces globally and Aid by Trade Foundation will continue to serve their customers and partners with Cotton made in Africa cotton produced in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Partnership only allows for CmiA cotton to be sold as BCI cotton but not vice versa. Get to know more about the details of the cooperation here.