Hunger and unemployment shape everyday life in Simbabwe. After almost 40 years under President Mugabe, the East African country's once flourishing agriculture lies broken. Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) has joined forces with OTTO Österreich (Austria) and Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO for humanitarian aid, to realise a water and hygiene project in rural Zimbabwe. Started in 2015, the project aimed at supporting especially the rural citizens. The project has now successfully been completed. A total of 20 villages have gained access to clean drinking water, and schools have been fitted with urgently needed sanitary facilities.
A supply of clean drinking water directly from the faucet is something we take for granted. In sub-Saharan Africa however, over 30% of the population has no access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Primarily women and girls spend a total of 40 billion hours per year fetching water. What is more, due to the frequent lack of adequate sanitary facilities at schools, older schoolgirls do not attend classes during their menstruation. “We at Cotton made in Africa have been working in partnership with the cotton company Alliance in rural Zimbabwe for years. The lack of access to clean drinking water and toilets is a major obstacle when it comes to improving living conditions. That is why, back in 2015, we initiated the project together with our partners OTTO Österreich and Welthungerhilfe,” explains Alexandra Perschau, Project Manager at Cotton made in Africa. The population in the Gokwe-South region is particularly affected by an insufficient water supply and poor sanitation: Roundabout 60 percent have access to clean water and a mere 18 percent have access to adequate sanitary facilities.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of the project and ensure a long-term benefit, the local population was involved in the project and trained in hygiene and clean drinking water. “One of our priorities was to train around 10,000 schoolchildren in 20 villages to become ‘hygiene ambassadors’. Their role is to make sure that the newly acquired knowledge is passed on to their village communities and families, even after the project has ended”, says Dr. Iris Schöninger, Policy Advisor at Welthungerhilfe.
“On our way to using 100% sustainable cotton, we largely rely on the Cotton made in Africa label. In using CmiA certified cotton, we are protecting the environment, saving more than 500 liters of water per T-shirt, and supporting the local communities. We are delighted that our joint water and sanitation project is providing access to clean water, especially for the girls and boys in the cotton growing regions,” says Harald Gutschi, spokesperson of the Management Board of OTTO Österreich.
50 Million CmiA Textiles in the Commercial Year 2016
Upon publication of its annual report for 2016, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) can report positive results for the past commercial year: As the largest label for sustainable cotton from Africa, CmiA certified 30% of cotton production in sub-Saharan Africa. Growing demand for CmiA cotton in the textile industry meant that around 50 million CmiA textiles were put to the market in 2016. Thereby, the sustainable cotton initiative increased its license revenues by 47 percent in comparison to 2015.
A growing demand alliance for CmiA cotton
About 30 textile companies including bonprix, OTTO, the Rewe Group or Tchibo use CmiA cotton. Since 2016 Jack & Jones from Denmark, Asos from Great Britain, Kid Interior from Norway and Aldi Süd have joined. 50 million textiles were marked with the CmiA label in 2016. License revenues for the CmiA label increased by 47 percent in comparison to the previous year, reaching 1,484,546 Euros. Dr. Michael Otto, the founder of Cotton made in Africa, emphasizes: “Every T-shirt and every pair of jeans with the CmiA seal contributes towards combating poverty and thereby counteracting the causes of migration.”
Thanks to the boost in sales of CmiA certified cotton in the textile production countries, CmiA could achieve a consolidated revenue of plus 47 percent in 2016. The share of public financial aid in 2016 reached the lowest level of 1 percent. The result substantiates the motto of the sponsoring organization - ’ Aid by Trade. Based on its goals, the foundation was able to increase the effectiveness of its contributed funds by a further percentage point in comparison to the previous year, reaching 72 percent.
Successful project implementation in the cotton growing countries
A total of 20 verification operations in 2016 ensured compliance with the CmiA standards and offered helpful guidelines for improvements, alongside the continual trainings. The aggregated data from verification operations in 2016 proves that the implementation of CmiA standards was significantly improved in subsequent verifications. The reviews were carried out by the three independent audit companies, EcoCert, AfriCert and Control Union.
As part of the AbTF family of standards, around 780,000 smallholder farmers, of which 18% are female smallholder farmers, took part in 2016 and produced 320,000 tons of fiber cotton. This means that CmiA certifies 30% of cotton production in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, CmiA covered a cultivation area of over 1.1 million hectares and has become the biggest standard for sustainable cotton from Africa. Bob Akede, Lead Auditor from AfriCert in Kenya, highlights: “CmiA has now achieved immense importance in the producing countries.” Including family members, CmiA reached more than 6.7 million people.
Above its standard implementation, Cotton made in Africa supports projects by village communities and provides financing. Among the projects are solar power projects for farmer training centers, water or women's projects. The total volume invested in cooperation projects that have been active 2016 came to 950,000 Euros. The projects are implemented in close alliance with local cotton companies, partners such as CARE, Welthungerhilfe, OTTO, C&A, Otto Austria, and the Deutschen Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (German Investment and Development Corporation) with funds by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Download the full version of the Annual Report 2016 here.
Celebrities, Hamburg testimonials, non-political organizations and textile companies flew the flag for Cotton made in Africa
On the occasion of the Bathrobe Day premiere, Cotton made in Africa kindled a beacon of engagement for smallholder farmers in Africa as well as for nature. In social media and at events in Hamburg, many supporters such as Valentina Pahde, Motsi Mabuse, Johanna Klum and Johannes Strate presented themselves publicly in bathrobes in order to set an undeniable signal for Cotton made in Africa. They flew the flag for the protection of our environment and hundreds of thousand cotton farmers in Africa.
On this day of action, the initiative, founded by Dr. Michael Otto, called upon everyone to improve the world by wearing a bathrobe. National celebrities such as Maite Kelly, Namika, Minh-Khai Phan-Thi or Laura Chaplin and Florian Ambrosius, characters from Hamburg such as Barkassen Meyer, businesses and non-political organizations followed this appeal and posted their selfies in the popular garment under #bathrobeday, #wearasmile, and @cottonmadeinafrica.
Famous statues in Hamburg such as the Beatles in St. Pauli, the Zitronenjette, Moai Angelito, and Störtebeker also appeared in bathrobes just like the rowing eight from the club Favorite Hammonia. A flash mob attracted attention in the city center of Hamburg: Bathrobe wearers trekked from the main station through Mönckebergstraße as far as the town hall market and demonstrated how easy it is to do something good whilst wearing and giving a smile.
Organizations such as the WWF, Welthungerhilfe or CARE, Hamburg institutions such the Hamburg Dungeon and the initiative ‘Platz schaffen mit Herz’ (make room with the heart) also participated in Cotton made in Africa’s “Wear a Smile” campaign and appeared in a bathrobe on Bathrobe Day. Furthermore, renowned companies and textile firms such as bonprix, OTTO, the Otto Group, Tchibo, the Rewe Group, ALDI SÜD, Ernsting’s family, and ABOUT YOU supported the campaign: Consumers can wear a smile with each Cotton made in Africa garment, support smallholder farmers through better working and living conditions and protect nature.
“Together with many supporters and with plenty of fun, we were able to bring 695,000 African smallholder farmers to public attention. We are very happy about the huge response in social media as well as with our local bathrobe campaigns,” explains Tina Stridde, Director of the initiative Cotton made in Africa.
Further information can be found on the attached fact sheet as well as at https://www.wearasmile.org/.
A gallery of photos from the Bathrobe Day is available for download under this link.
Fashion Brands and Textile Retailers Back Cotton made in Africa
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) cotton is more in demand than ever before. Around 50 million textiles displayed the Cotton made in Africa seal in 2016 alone. The biggest buyers include the Otto Group with its frontrunner bonprix, Tchibo and the REWE Group.
Some 30 companies and brands use CmiA cotton for their textiles. The top customers 2016 include the Otto Group, with bonprix as the biggest buyer within the company group, Tchibo and the Rewe Group with its sales channels REWE, Penny and Toom Baumarkt. Additionally, Engelbert Strauss, Ernsting’s family, Asos, Aldi Süd and BESTSELLER rank among the biggest buyers that support through their demand for CmiA cotton. Smaller fashion labels such as Hiitu from Germany, Cooekid from Great Britain, Weaverbirds from Denmark or Abaana from Uganda also made an important contribution by purchasing Cotton made in Africa cotton. They offer an exclusive selection of products made from Cotton made in Africa cotton, ranging from children's clothing to high fashion textiles.
Cotton made in Africa cotton is used by internationally operating textile companies and small fashion labels alike. The partners thereby show that sustainable cotton from Africa is a strong part of their procurement and can be used in a versatile way. Christian Barthel, Director Supply Chain Management, underlines: “In view of the many heterogeneous buyers of Cotton made in Africa cotton, it is clear that sustainable cotton from Africa can be used for a number of different product groups.” This means that consumers can fall back on a wide range of CmiA textiles and do something good without paying more. With every sale or purchase of a CmiA textile, companies and consumers make a contribution towards environmental protection and better working and living conditions for Africa smallholder farmers and their families. “Sustainable cotton can be used for a very wide basis in the textile industry. Our partners successfully show that Cotton made in Africa cotton can lay a sustainable foundation for many branches,” continues Barthel.
Cotton made in Africa cotton is grown by more than 780,000 smallholder farmers in 10 countries of sub-Saharan Africa and in accordance with the ecological and socio-economic criteria of the CmiA standard. More than 320,000 tons of CmiA certified cotton were harvested in 2016 and processed further by textile producers in Asia, Europe and Africa. More than 100 partners in the textile value chain work with Cotton made in Africa across the globe, to implement the principle of helping people to help themselves through trade.
Laura Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and ambassador for Cotton made in Africa, about her life, mission and her new label Smile by Laura Chaplin
Laura Chaplin is the granddaughter of the world-famous actor Charlie Chaplin. In her video home-story, she now shows why she wanted to become ambassador for Cotton made in Africa and what her brand-new label Smile by Laura Chaplin stands for.
As granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, Laura Chaplin grew up privileged in the environment of artists and celebrities such as Michael Jackson on the Chaplin estate in Vevey, Switzerland. As a young designer, she feels the urge to give back and engage herself for those who grew up under less fortunate conditions. “I really wanted to be ambassador for Cotton made in Africa, because we share the same values. We want to make the world a happier place”, explains Laura Chaplin her decision to support Cotton made in Africa and the 695,000 smallholder cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa CmiA is working with.
Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa feels honored to work with her: “Laura Chaplin and Cotton made in Africa are united in their goal to improve the living and working conditions of cotton farmers and to promote nature conservation in Africa. Together, we want to spread a smile around the world - for the farmers, nature and consumers alike. Being a fashion designer, her commitment for a sustainable cotton initiative is as perfect match. With her new label “Smile by Laura Chaplin” she promotes the idea of Cotton made in Africa. Every sold textile will support the foundation and thereby benefit the people in the project areas in Africa.
For Laura Chaplin, creative art has ever since played a predominant role in her life and had a great impact on her career path as a fashion designer Her label Smile by Laura Chaplin is characterized by a positive way of life and humanity. Her designs will be interpreted in a modern and stylish way and are inspired by the beauty of Africa. “Cotton made in Africa had a great influence on my designs. With them I want to give people along the textile chain a reason to smile - from the farmer to the consumer.”
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) certified cotton is processed all over the world in all major textile production countries. The aim of the Cotton made in Africa Supply Chain Workshop, held in Coimbatore/India mid-May, was to further establish CmiA in India where demand is also increasing. Some 80 experts attended the meeting, representing actors along the textile value chain - from spinning mills and ready-made garment and fabric producers right through to cotton traders and merchandisers for textile companies.
Christian Barthel, Director Supply Chain Management at Cotton made in Africa, presented examples of best practice, demonstrating how Cotton made in Africa can further be integrated in the textile supply chains in India - in a way which is transparent, traceable and economically viable. Including the Indian market, Cotton made in Africa works with over 100 players in the international textile production market.
One of the CmiA partners is the cotton trader Stadtlander. "As an internationally oriented company in the cotton trade, we attach great importance to reliability and dynamism. Cotton made in Africa also work in accordance to these values,” said Maximilian Daebel of Otto Stadtlander during the workshop, “We are happy to partner with CmiA and thereby helping to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers in Africa who stand at the beginning of the textile supply chain.” According to Lorenz Reinhart, working for the swiss-based, international cotton trader Reinhart, CmiA is a key component of the strategy of the company: “To work with Cotton made in Africa means for us to preserve internationally recognized sustainability standards for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in Africa.”
Through its worldwide network along the textile value chain, Cotton made in Africa ensures that CmiA cotton can be purchased cost-neutral, all over the world and at any time. This enables companies on the one hand to combine their sustainability goals with their procurement targets in the best possible way. The initiative on the other hand can thereby pursue its aims which is to persuade companies to switch from conventional sources to Cotton made in Africa cotton. At the end, CmiA thereby maximizes its support for smallholders in Africa, helping them to improve their living and working conditions and to protect the natural environment. A global comparison shows that CmiA cotton saves over 500 liters of water on every T-shirt. Around 50 million textiles bearing the Cotton made in Africa label were brought onto the market in 2016. Around 30 companies currently market Cotton made in Africa products.