Through the use of the certified sustainable cotton with the “Cotton made in Africa” (CmiA) label, more than 33 billion litres of water were saved. Customers who buy articles from the Otto Group with the CmiA label thus actively contribute, among other things, to saving the precious resource of water, combatting poverty and improving the future viability of millions of people in Africa.
This year's Stakeholder Conference of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) was held from September 7 to 8 in Munich and was attended by over 100 experts in the textile value chain from over 20 countries. The two ends of the textile production chain met, with companies and brands like OTTO, Ernsting's family, Engelbert Strauss, Sportscheck and Jack & Jones at one end and cotton producers from Africa at the other end. They discussed how to achieve sustainability in the field, transparency along the supply chain, and new communication strategies for trading sustainable products.
Helmut Fischer, Head of the Division “Sustainability Standards” at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), opened this year's annual conference and underlined the importance of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) as one of the main standards for sustainable cotton. Richard Rogers, Senior Program Officer for Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation summed up his work with CmiA and COMPACI which has spanned almost 10 years and said: "We have learned to listen to the smallholders. The Aid by Trade Foundation has done a good job of raising the interest of textile companies and brands in African cotton. My wish for the future would be that companies would pay as much attention to their value chains and, more importantly, to the farmers as they do to the consumers."
Once again, the conference followed the thread from field to fashion. The increased significance of sustainable cotton and textiles is fuelling the demand for transparency in the supply chain. Cotton made in Africa therefor offers solutions which can be easily put into practice with the help of new technologies and expert knowledge. The systems required to guarantee traceability are already in place and the databases are just waiting to be filled, according to Sanjay Gupta of Direction Software Solutions specialized in IT-based solutions for a transparent value chain. The participants included Anne Pattberg of PwC, expert in business philosophy Dominic Veken, Claudia Gersdorf of Viva con Agua, Dörte Lehne of OTTO, and Jaswinder Bedi, Manager of a vertically integrated textile factory in Uganda, and they all agreed that any sustainability strategy must be translated into a persuasive message which ultimately communicates the product to the customer.
Another item on the agenda was the training for the smallholders - a special service by COMPACI and CmiA. Representatives of the cotton companies and agricultural experts discussed how to cater even more effectively to the needs of the smallholders and concluded that gender-specific course content, new technologies, and the integration of food and cash crops must be central to the CmiA curriculum.
COMPACI (Competitive African Cotton Initiative)
The Competitive African Cotton Initiative (COMPACI) was founded in 2008 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on the back of the successful Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) pilot, with a view to subsidizing the income of African cotton farmers. The DEG (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH) and the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) were instructed to put the plans into action. In the first phase, COMPACI concentrated on Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa and on Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia in the south-east of Africa. Then the initiative was expanded in the second phase to Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
On the occasion of the world water week, the community Project for clean drinking water and hygiene in the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) growing regions in rural Mozambique has been successfully completed. It was implemented at the initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), founding organization of CmiA, together with German retailer OTTO, CARE International, the German Investment and Development Corporation (DEG) with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as the cotton company Plexus. At the end of the project, Dr. Michael Otto, founder of AbTF, and other CmiA partners traveled to Mozambique to at-tend the ceremonial handover.
Since 2015, the CmiA-partners CARE, DEG, OTTO and Plexus have teamed up to support improved water, sanitation, and hygiene provision for the rural population in the Cotton made in Africa growing regions of Mozambique. The partners invested a total of €300,000 to enable more than 50,000 people in 20 villages to have access to fresh drinking water for the first time. They also benefited from hygiene measures as a basic requirement for improved living conditions. Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Foundation, was delighted with the results: “The community project secures the population’s access to a basic human need in rural Africa: clean drinking water supply and hygienic living conditions. Experiencing the joy and enthusiasm of the village inhabitants here in Mozambique and seeing their commitment to their boreholes lays the foundation for a prosperous project that will sustain for the benefit of the village communities.” “The most impressive moment for me is to come to a village and to see that the village inhabitants have changed their behavior; that they are using their latrine, that they are getting clean water from a borehole that will last for 20 to 30 years”, adds Nic Dexter, Project Manager at CARE Mozambique.
By mid-2016, 10 boreholes were repaired, 10 boreholes built, and sanitary facilities at 15 village schools have been constructed from which more than 5,000 pupils can profit. Prior to this, more than 30,000 people took part in awareness-raising measures to promote health issues in 20 different villages of the cotton cultivation region Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. They learned about the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation provision as well as how to build and maintain sanitary facilities themselves, thereby securing the sustainability of the project even after completion. First successes of the project have already been achieved: Diarrhoeal diseases that occur mainly through contaminated drinking water and causes malnutrition problems especially for young children could have been reduced from 46% at the begin-ning of the project to 10% at the end of the project. A total of 20 convening committees set up specifically for this purpose will also ensure the sustainable use of the boreholes and latrines that have been put in place and act as a point of interface to the rural village population. 50% of its group members are women.
To find out more about the project and the story behind have a look at the video interview with Dr. Michael Otto and the video interview with the WASH project representatives.
CARE International is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and delivering lifesaving assistance in emergencies. In Mozambique, CARE is working alongside people in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the country to enable people to get the resources they need to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Access to clean drinking water is one of life’s most basic needs, and CARE is working with its partners to ensure that the most vulnerable, especially the women and girls, gain access to clean water and adopt good hygiene and sanitation practices. CARE also works to build the capacity of local people to manage their resources in sustainable ways, training local committees to maintain and service the water points that are built. These efforts, together with work done to promote sustainable agriculture, improve nutrition among mothers and young children, and better manage the natural resources on which so many lives depend, are leading to improvements in the lives of the people and part-ners with whom CARE works. http://care.org.mz
As part of the Otto Group, OTTO is one of the most successful e-commerce companies and the largest online retailer in Germany for fashion and lifestyle for the end customer. We generate approximately 90 percent of our overall turnover via otto.de and other specialist online shops. You can find all you need to know on the subject of “OTTO and Sustainability” here.
In time for the Heimtextil Messe (household textile exhibition) in Frankfurt, the Dibella company group and the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) Initiative are sealing their newly closed partnership. By using CmiA certified cotton, Dibella is putting the requirements of the industry for sustainable commercial textiles into practice. CmiA textiles are used in the hotel, restaurant and health industries via the textile service, whilst the Dibella companies group promotes sustainable cotton cultivation in Africa.
“With Cotton made in Africa, we have found a partner who supports us in integrating sustainable cotton efficiently into our textile supply chain. The use of Cotton made in Africa cotton improves our water and CO2 footprint; so we gain sustainable quality. Moreover, we support the interests of more than 650,000 small-scale farmers and their families on behalf of 5.6 million people with the standard for sustainable cotton, which is considered the most renowned in Africa,” says a delighted Ralf Hellmann, Managing Director of the Dibella company group, founded in 1986.
With more than 30 textile companies and brands – including OTTO, Bonprix, the Rewe Group, Tchibo, Engelbert Strauss and ASOS – Cotton made in Africa has established itself as a sustainable cotton standard for the textile industry. Tina Stridde, the initiative’s manager, is happy with this positive development: “Cotton made in Africa cotton is available in all the important production markets and is increasingly being processed for textiles in Africa. From bed linen and towels to jeans and fashionable tops, textiles are being produced with Cotton made in Africa cotton, which allows small farmers to become independent of charitable donations. We are delighted to have found a renowned partner in Dibella, who promotes small-scale farmers in Africa and the use of sustainably produced raw materials in the textile industry.”
In 10 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, small-scale farmers are supported with modern and efficient agricultural and business training programmes in order to ensure that their cultivation is based on environmentally friendly methods. Dangerous pesticides, genetically modified seeds, the felling of primary forests and artificial irrigation are forbidden. Cotton made in Africa ensures ethical working conditions for the small-scale farmers as well as the workers in the de-seeding plants in order to enable them and their families to have a better life.
The cooperation came into being through a joint partner, Bimeco, who - as a yarn manufacturer - merges both ends of the textile chain. Alois Busshaus, yarn expert at Bimeco emphasises: “For us the promotion of sustainable development by means of building trusting collaborations is firmly anchored in the company culture. It is even nicer for us to see the fruits of this commitment – such as the co-operation between Cotton made in Africa and Dibella.”
About Cotton made in Africa
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), an Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) initiative, has made it an aim to provide help by promoting self-help through trade in order to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers and their families in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently more than 650,000 small-scale farmers in 10 countries are participating in the CmiA initiative. Small-scale farmers receive training in efficient and environmentally friendly cultivation methods. This helps them to improve the quality of their cotton and to achieve greater harvest yields and better incomes for themselves and their families. About 30 companies in the international textile branch use CmiA-cotton for their products. Consumers can recognise these by a small, wine-red quality label with the Cotton made in Africa imprint. www.cottonmadeinafrica.org
Dibella is a competent partner in textile hiring services, providing long lasting commercial textiles in the hotel, restaurant and health industries. The service-oriented company has supplied the industry since 1986 with exclusive, professional products. Thanks to its steady growth, Dibella is now represented in international offices of the most important markets in Europe. For many years Dibella has promoted sustainable production to safeguard mankind and the environment. Its membership of many organisations is an expression of this commitment.
Bimeco has been active on the market for high quality spun industrial yarns since 1986 and is one of the leading suppliers in Europe. During this time, Bimeco has imported over 250,000 tons of yarns from Africa and Asia into Europe. Leading manufacturers in over 20 countries value Bimeco’s advisory and worldwide logistics service. The secret behind Bimeco’s success lies in the consistent company philosophy from the very beginning – to be a reliable, competent and profitable partner for its customers and suppliers.
KID INTERERIOR, specialised in home textiles with a typically Scandinavian modern and minimalistic design touch, joins Cotton made in Africa (CmiA). The company is the first CmiA Demand Alliance Partner in Norway. By cooperation with CmiA KID INTERIOR supports fair working conditions for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and helps to protect the environment. All home textiles by KID INTERRIOR that carry the CmiA quality label are produced on the African continent and thereby create job opportunities within the African textile value chain.
By sourcing CmiA certified cotton for its products Kid Norway sets an example for sustainable textiles in Norway. “With Cotton made in Africa we have voted for a well-recognized sustainability standard that offers us several added values our customers and we as a company can profit from: CmiA helps us to engage for hundred thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa who produce the high-quality fibre for our products. We additionally protect our precious natural resources and can offer our customers products in the same high quality and style KID is known for,” says Stian Brandhagen, Head of CSR at KID INTERIOR. For its production, KID INTERIOR works with MNS Manufacturing Plc in Ethiopia. The Turkish-based textile company has opened its vertically integrated factory in Ethiopia in 2013 and has thereby created job opportunities for several hundred Ethiopians.
For Tina Stridde, Managing Director of CmiA, the cooperation with KID INTERIOR marks a decisive step within the history of CmiA: “Scandinavian textiles are known for its quality and style. KID shows us now that companies can adhere to quality as well as design values while engaging for sustainability. It is the best proof that sustainability in fashion is possible and the new trend.”
CmiA cotton is cultivated under strict ethical standards. Independent organizations regularly monitor whether fair working conditions are ensured for CmiA smallholder farmers. Trainings enable them to increase their yields and thereby income. By purchasing a product bearing the official wine-red CmiA label, consumers also help to preserve endangered primary forests, to keep the cotton GMO-free and to save one of the most precious resources of the world - water. As CmiA farmers only practice rain-fed cultivation, a t-shirt produced with CmiA-cotton saves more than 500 litres of water. Community protects additionally help the farmer families to get access to school education and empowers women on their way to more independence.
About Kid Interior
Kid Interiør was founded in 1937, and is a nationwide company for textiles, home & living, offering a large variety of curtains, bed linen and other interior products in Norway. We have more than 130 company-owned store. Our mission is to inspire and make every home a beautiful home, whilst respecting workers right, contributing to a better environment and give consumers good quality products.
KID Interiør has started to implement more sustainable cotton in all cotton products, and has a vision to have 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 in all cotton products. Get to know more: www.kid.no / www.instagram.com/kidinterior
OTTO will be shining the spotlight on the subject of sustainability in its 360° campaign starting on July 19. The main scene will be an emotional TV commercial which will draw consumer attention to sustainable cotton from the Cotton made in Africa initiative.
OTTO will use the TV commercial to tell the moving story of the sustainably grown cotton, having had an advertisement produced on the issue of sustainability for the first time ever. The film footage conveys impressions of Africa and Germany and seeks to raise awareness of sustainable fashion among consumers.
"We want the campaign to call attention to the issue and engender a sense of responsibility," explains Dr. Michael Heller, Member of the OTTO Management Board for Categories and Deputy Spokesperson. "OTTO has been backing Cotton made in Africa for over 10 years now and helps almost 700,000 African smallholders to grow cotton more efficiently and more sustainably. What is more, 75 per cent of our own-brand products will be made with Cotton made in Africa and by 2020 the figure will have risen to 100 per cent." The relevant products advertised on otto.de carry the burgundy Cotton made in Africa label and the GOODproduct-Siegel label which verifies the credentials of all sustainable products at OTTO.
"In promoting fashion from the Cotton made in Africa initiative, we are not cutting back on quality or style," said Anja Dillenburg, Head of Corporate Responsibility at OTTO, "but we are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. This is good both in terms of preserving the natural resources and protecting the health of the people who grow our cotton. It is therefore a positive way to make consumers a little more conscious of sustainability as they go through life," added Dillenburg. "It is a great result for us to see that our partner OTTO is consistently changing over to purchasing sustainable raw material," said Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa. "In broadcasting this advertisement, OTTO is demonstrating how important the Cotton made in Africa initiative is for the company. It additionally shows that it offers the customer genuine value added. Shining the spotlight on the concerns of smallholders in a large-scale advertising campaign is a major step forwards for the future."
The 30-second commercial will be seen on TV as from today (July 19, 2016). It will be accompanied by background information and videos on social media, YouTube and otto.de, including an interview with Dr. Michael Otto, founder of the Aid by Trade Foundation and supporter of the Cotton made in Africa initiative.
Get to know more about the campaign and watch the videos here: www.otto.de/nachhaltigkeit.
To watch the TV spot directly, follow this link.
As part of the Otto Group, OTTO is one of the most successful e-commerce companies and the largest online retailer of fashion and lifestyle in Germany. OTTO generates about 85 percent of its total revenues through otto.de and other specialist online shops.