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.
HAKRO GmbH has launched its next sustainability project. The supplier of clothing for corporate fashion, work, leisure and sport has now signed a partnership agreement with Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and will be buying CmiA-certified cotton in future. The cotton is produced in accordance with the CmiA certification without genetically modified seeds, harmful pesticides and artificial irrigation. It improves the working and living conditions of hundreds of thousands of smallholder cotton farmers and thousands of factory workers in Africa.
“Cotton made in Africa has won our support”, said Carmen Kroll, the managing partner of HAKRO. “The standard takes account of both social and ecological aspects. And by signing up we can play a part in stabilizing the cotton sector in Africa and improving the living and working conditions in the growing countries.”
Having recently launched a collection in organic cotton, the medium-sized enterprise has pledged commitment to Cotton made in Africa with a view to significantly increasing its proportion of sustainably produced natural fibers in the next few years. The enterprise sends the CmiA cotton to an independent production partner in Turkey which makes T-shirts, polo shirts, pull-on sweatshirts and zip-front sweatshirts for HAKRO. The company is subject to the conditions imposed by the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI).
Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation, the umbrella organization of CmiA, appreciates new partnership, saying that “HAKRO shows that companies in the corporate fashion, work, leisure and sports branch of textiles can also increase their sustainability credentials with Cotton made in Africa and show their customers that they are committed to the cause. More and more companies with a focus on sustainability are demanding higher social and ecological standards of their workwear so we are pleased to have a prominent partner like HAKRO on board who will join us in our support for the smallholders in Africa and for a forward-looking approach to corporate fashion.”
As the largest initiative for sustainably produced cotton in Africa, Cotton made in Africa constitutes a sustainable basis for the worldwide textile supply chain. It puts a face to the smallholders at the first link of the fashion industry chain. Hundreds of thousands of smallholders are benefiting from agricultural and business training courses which help them to improve their yields and cultivation methods. Women are gaining greater independence in their social and occupational roles, and factory workers are enjoying improved working conditions. In return, companies are getting a sustainable raw material which protects human rights and conserves the natural Environment.
The family-run enterprise HAKRO, which was set up in 1987 as a limited liability company (GmbH), has its roots in the textile retail firm started up in 1969 by Schrozberg entrepreneur Harry Kroll (HaKro). The company specializes in high-end corporate fashion, workwear, leisurewear and sportswear. Customers can choose between 146 designs, 51 colors, 15 sizes and three fits in the current catalog – for women, men, children and unisex (T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, blouses, pullovers, cardigans and socks), and the clothes are sold by authorized stockists all over Europe. The whole collection is certified as meeting the “Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX”.
The company has seen strong growth in the last few years and achieved the best trading results in its history in 2016 with its 155-strong workforce. HAKRO sources its textiles from independent production partners in Turkey, Bangladesh, Laos, China and the Czech Republic. The quality management system is certified as conforming to ISO 9001. HAKRO has been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2009 and a member of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles since 2015. www.hakro.com
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.
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.
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.