With its latest cooperation with Dutch service enterprise AfricanWise, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) has put down another marker for Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) on the international markets. The AbTF will be working with Frans de Pater, founder and director of AfricanWise, in order to establish the demand for Cotton made in Africa cotton in the Netherlands. The aim of the Foundation is to get sustainable cotton from Africa flowing in and out of international textile companies and, in so doing, to create a situation from which all can profit – the textile companies, the consumers and, not least, the smallholders and their families in Africa.
"We want to show Dutch companies that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand with each other because with Cotton made in Africa they gain access to a socially, ecologically and economically sustainable raw material which is an asset for all – the textile companies, the consumers and the cotton farmers in Africa," said Tina Stridde, director of the Aid by Trade Foundation in Hamburg, explaining the reasons for the partnership with Afri-canWise. Partners like PUMA, the Rewe Group, the Otto Group and Tchibo have long been committed to Cotton made in Africa, demonstrating that the Cotton made in Africa concept is working.
Frans de Pater, new representative of the Aid by Trade Foundation in the Netherlands and director of AfricanWise, is delighted at the new partnership. "Cotton made in Africa is a great opportunity for textile companies in the Netherlands," he said, "because the initiative combines an attitude of social responsibility and stewardship with entrepreneurial thinking. CmiA cotton is always available at market prices and is made into textiles all over the world. This establishes not only the authenticity of the products but also their flexibility." De Pater has over 25 years of experience of working with inno-vative business concepts in international B2B and B2C contexts, both in Europe and in Africa. He has a firm background in various industries including the textiles and garment sector.
Cotton made in Africa is currently working with over 650,000 cotton farmers in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Experts train the smallholders in sustainable cultivation methods which protect the environment and increase their crop and therefore their income. The communities in rural Africa also receive assistance by way of water and sanitation projects, initiatives in support of women, and investment in the school infrastructure. CmiA has already reached over five million people in this way if family members are included. Several reviews show that helping people to help themselves is an approach which is well received. Independent accredited auditors conduct regular checks to verify that the sustainability criteria for the Cotton made in Africa standard are being met. The CmiA seal of approval is only given to cotton which is shown to meet the specifications set out to achieve the standard. Scientific studies, such as the research conducted by PE INTERNATIONAL, also underline the fact that Cotton made in Africa is mak-ing a difference in respect of the environment, with proof that the sustaina-ble growing methods adopted for Cotton made in Africa cotton are reducing negative environmental impact and global climate change. Every kilogram of cotton fiber represents a saving of over 2000 liters of water in compari-son with the global average and a reduction of up to 40% in greenhouse gas emissions in contrast with conventional cotton.
AfricanWise is founded by Frans de Pater and Alex Sijmonsma and supports trade between Europe and Sub Saharan Africa. With the belief that all social classes should benefit from growth, African Wise develops and executes ‘inclusive’ business models. As cultural understanding is essential to success-fully do business African Wise has created a vast network of Project Partners, all having worked and lived in Africa. Its focus lies on agriculture, manufacturing as well as the textile and garment industry.
Over 3,000 children in Southern Africa get access to school education - this was achieved as the result of the community project "Promotion of school infrastructure in Zambia" initiated in July 2011 by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and Otto Group. The project received support from the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) and local cotton company, NWK Agri-Services.
In order to reach the target of 100% sustainable cotton production by 2020, the Otto Group's sustainability strategy counts on cotton from the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Initiative. In addition to using CmiA cotton, the Otto Group has also taken further steps to support smallholder farmers and their families in the CmiA cotton growing regions. "From the very beginning, our goal was to support the communities where CmiA cotton is grown. Children are the future of a country, well-educated children even more so. This is why we are strongly committed to promoting school education for the children of CmiA cotton farmers" explains Andreas Streubig, Division Manager Corporate Responsibility of the Otto Group. A total budget of 411,000 Euro was invested in the project in order to develop the school infrastructure in Zambia.
In order to reach children who had hardly any chance of attending a school until now, a total of 4 schools with multiple buildings and classrooms were built while two schools were refurbished to welcome local schoolchildren in the remote cotton-producing regions of Zambia. Over the last year, more than 3,200 children of CmiA smallholder farmers have already benefited from the school project: In addition to the school buildings, a total of 4,330 school books, educational materials such as geometry sets, pencils and exercise books as well as 280 tables and benches were provided. Gardens were also created at all schools. Five of six schools were supplied with electricity, in part thanks to solar panels. Sanitary facilities and a total of 18 boreholes for supplying the schools as well as surrounding communities with clean drinking water were built. Following the successful completion of the project, it was officially handed over to the communities and the Zambian government. The first local initiatives for the continuation of the project have been formed. Their first undertaking will involve the construction of teacher accommodation.
Sustainable Cotton for school education in Benin and Zambia
Tchibo and the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) have been committed to expanding the school infrastructure in the rural areas of Africa since several years. Thereby they support children of African cotton farmers beyond supporting sustainable cotton production. In Benin in western Africa, the school project was successfully completed this year. Another school project underway will also benefit numerous children in Zambia. One of the children who benefit from this commitment is 13 year old Mary. A moving film accompanies her and Hannah from Germany throughout a normal school day: http://youtu.be/3vknwEzjV0s.
Both Benin in western Africa and Zambia in eastern Africa are among the poorest countries in the world. This especially affects the rural population. Going to school is a rarity for many African children. To provide children of cotton farmers with the opportunity to receive an education is the goal of Tchibo and the Aid by Trade Foundation with its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. Tchibo and the AbTF laid the cornerstone of their commitment in 2010 in cooperation with local partners, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) in Benin. The school project was completed this year and proved to be a great success: More than 750 children were able to learn in a peaceful atmosphere thanks to five newly built school buildings equipped with solar energy. In 66 newly constructed school cafeterias, the children of farmers receive healthy meals prepared with food from the new school gardens. In addition, the school libraries were equipped with 10,000 books, and there are 20,000 locally produced school uniforms for the children.
Expanding the Commitment in Zambia
Since 2012, Tchibo and the Aid by Trade Foundation together with the local cotton company Cargill and the Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) in the context of developing partnerships with the private sector engage in Zambia. With five built schools first successful results can also be celebrated in this country from which the children of African smallholders benefit primarily: Each school complex is equipped with its own borehole. This ensures that both the school children and the surrounding communities have access to clean drinking water. Five additional school buildings are expected to be completed by mid 2015. At the already built and those that will be finished in 2015 school gardens will ensure children's food security and a place where the children playfully learn the basics of sustainable farming methods.
The Movie Shows: A School Day in the Life of Mary and Hannah
"When I wake up every morning, it's too early and most of the time I'm very tired. This makes getting up a little hard. But I look forward to seeing my friends at school." Is this sentence from Hannah from Germany or Mary from Zambia? In a moving video, both talk about their school day. Mary is 13 years old, the daughter of an African smallholder farmer who grows cotton according to sustainable CmiA standards. Recently she visits one of the newly built schools in eastern Zambia. Even if Hannah and Mary are different in many ways, their school life between the big break and math class is still similar. Watch the entire movie here.
Since 2008, Tchibo has increasingly relied on "Cotton made in Africa" cotton and is one of the world's largest buyers. With every purchase of CmiA products, the customer directly contributes to improving the living conditions of smallholder farmers and their children. About 70% of the processed cotton at Tchibo will come from responsible sources (Organic, Organic Blend, CmiA, Better Cotton Initiative i.a.) this year.
Get to know what stands behind the project and the work of CmiA - farmers, representatives of Cotton made in Africa and Tchibo explain more about it in the second film.
About Tchibo: Tchibo stands for a unique business model. Tchibo operates more than 1,000 Tchibo Shops, approx. 26,000 Depots at third-party retail outlets, and national online shops in eight countries. The company uses this multi-channel distribution system to offer coffee and the Cafissimo single-serve system, along with weekly changing non-food ranges as well as services in travel, mobile telecommunications and green energy. Tchibo and its 12,450 employees worldwide generated revenues of EUR 3.5 billion in 2013. Tchibo is the roasted coffee market leader in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland and one of the leading e-commerce companies in Europe. Its sustainable business policies have earned the family business, which was founded in Hamburg in 1949, multiple awards including the award for Corporate Ethics and the Environmental Logistics Award in 2012 as well as the Federal Government's CSR Award in 2013.
Following successful verification in accordance with the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) sustainability standard, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) will now be involved in sustainable cotton farming in North-Western Ethiopia, supporting over 9,000 smallholder farmers. The Foundation cooperates locally with the Ethiopian Cotton Producers, Exporters and Ginners Association (ECPGEA). As a result, the initiative now reaches over 5 million people in Africa.
"With the addition of Ethiopia, there are now round about 650,000 smallholder farmers growing cotton according to the CmiA sustainability standards. With their family members included, this totals over 5.5 million people in 10 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our standard is specifically aimed at smallholder farmers in our project countries who only have a small plot of land and who are most in need of support. In order to protect the environment and vital resources, the exploitation of primary forests is forbidden, as is encroachment into established protected areas, the use of genetically modified seeds, and artificial irrigation," said Christoph Kaut, Managing Director of the Foundation. Last year, over 150,000 tonnes of cotton were produced in accordance with the CmiA standard. As a result of the latest successful verifications in Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Cameroon, the quantity of CmiA-verified cotton produced will rise again significantly in 2015. With the CmiA standard, the Foundation is campaigning for social justice for cotton farmers and workers in the ginning factories, healthy living conditions, and the protection of the environment. As well as benefitting from agricultural and business training, the CmiA partnership also means that smallholder farmers can rely on fair contracts with the cotton companies and reliable payment for their crops.
New CmiA-Organic Standard Creates Market Access and Social Added Value for African Organic Cotton Farmers
The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) is the largest cotton initiative in Africa and is committed to integrating cotton originating from Africa into the textile industry with increasing success. The foundation is now also dedicated to promoting organic cotton production in Africa as well as its competitiveness on international markets. After successful verification of the Tanzanian cotton company BioSustain, organic cotton according to the CmiA Organic Standard is now available on the market.
"The new CmiA Organic Standard will benefit both the more than 9,000 successfully verified cotton farmers in Tanzania as well as textile companies worldwide as we are also working on market access for CmiA Organic cotton according to the market-oriented CmiA principles," explains Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the foundation, during the official announcement of the news at this year's Textile Exchange conference in Portland, USA.
Cotton is one of the main sources of income in the poorest regions of rural Africa. Against this backdrop, the Aid by Trade Foundation is intensifying its commitment to a more sustainable production both for people and nature with its current Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Standard. As an extension to the portfolio, it now also offers CmiA Organic cotton. The new standard compliments the existing Eco Standard EC No. 834/2007 and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) with the social and economic criteria of CmiA. By expanding the existing organic cotton standards to social and economic criteria from the CmiA standard, the foundation creates more than just ecological added value with Cotton made in Africa-Organic in additional regions of Africa. Through its economic and social components it ensures higher yields, a fair income for the farmers, measures towards the advancement of women, and investments in school infrastructure, for example. This significantly contributes to reducing poverty and ensuring food security for organic cotton farmers in Africa. It also increases the competitiveness of organic cotton originating from African thanks to its marketable approach.
The CmiA-Organic standard was developed on the initiative of AbTF in close cooperation with independent experts for standard development, organic cotton farmers, local actors, and Textile Exchange.
Aid by Trade Foundation's Local Partner Focuses on the Production of Food Crops
Cargill Zimbabwe, a local partner of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) and its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative in the Southeast African country, withdraw from the cotton sector of Zimbabwe with immediate effect. The company will fully dedicate its work to the production of food crops.
Since the initiation of the partnership in late 2011, Cargill and CmiA have made major achievements in Zimbabwe as participating smallholder farmers are increasingly implementing social and environmentally friendly practices in farming. Now the company will stop its activities in the cotton sector in Zimbabwe for economic reasons. The Aid by Trade Foundation will not withdraw from the country though, and continue to support participating cotton farmers and their families in improving their living conditions through its existing cooperation with the cotton company Alliance.
Cotton is considered as one of the three main important export goods. Its production lies almost entirely in the hands of smallholder farmers. Zimbabwe is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy is almost 53 years. It ranks 172 out of 187 on the Human Development Index.