International Expansion with New Partners
As the world’s largest standard for sustainable cotton from Africa, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) now certifies around 40% of the cotton produced by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Demand from the textile industry for CmiA cotton is up on the previous year by around 79%. And the trend is set to continue in 2018. Additional companies now on board with Cotton made in Africa include Tendam Global Fashion Retail from Spain, Vlisco from Holland and Gudrun Sjöden from Sweden. Around 1,033,500 smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are currently working with CmiA and growing cotton in accordance with the CmiA sustainability criteria.1
New international partners have joined the Demand Alliance for CmiA cotton, adding further strength to the backbone. Tendam Global Fashion Retail, formerly Grupo Cortefiel and one of the leading fashion retailers in Europe, is the first CmiA partner in Spain to sell shirts for men and women with the CmiA seal under the Springfield brand. Beyond using the sustainably grown cotton, the company goes one step further – all CmiA labelled products are manufactured in Ethiopia according to the HIP system. The Hard Identity Preserved (HIP) system ensures complete transparency at every step in the textile value chain.
In addition, Vlisco Group, the Dutch creator of original, high-quality textiles for the Central and West African markets, is now an official partner of the initiative. Vlisco Group’s factories in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire already use significant quantities of CmiA cotton in the production of the Uniwax, GTP and Woodin brands; the Dutch-produced Vlisco brand will follow suit as of 2019. “Working with CmiA fits perfectly with our strategy of doing more in Africa, for Africa, not to mention giving us a unique opportunity to make real a difference with regard to corporate social responsibility”, said Fiona Coyne, Director Sourcing and CSR at Vlisco Group, clearly delighted by the partnership.
Gudrun Sjöden from Sweden, a fashion brand which combines natural materials, diversity, sustainability and creativity for women of all ages in its colorful clothing, has also signed up. As an international brand Gudrun Sjöden has branches all the way from the USA to England passing through Scandinavia.
Rising Demand for CmiA cotton
Demand for CmiA cotton is greater than ever – according to figures for the financial year of 2017. More than 30 retailers and brands from the textile industry urchase and process the sustainable raw material and have exceeded their targets for 2017. Around 90 million products with the CmiA seal of approval were launched on the market in 2017 in total, representing an increase of 79 percent in comparison to the previous year. Income from license fees paid by partnering retailers and brands to use the CmiA brand was also up by 14 percent on the previous year at EUR 1,696,000. The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) was therefore financially self-sufficient, managing entirely without public subsidies for the first time. This means that the foundation is putting its mission – helping people to help themselves through trade – into action.
The Top Buyers of CmiA cotton
Among the top buyers in 2017 were the Otto Group with market leader bonprix, the REWE Group, ALDI Süd and Tchibo. Other major customers purchasing CmiA cotton include Engelbert Strauss, Ernsting’s family, ASOS, BESTSELLER, Armani, s.Oliver and HAKRO. Smaller fashion labels like HIITU from Germany, Cooee from Great Britain, Weaverbirds from Denmark and Abaana from Uganda are also making an important contribution by selling an exclusive selection of products made from Cotton made in Africa cotton, ranging from children’s clothing to high-end fashion textiles.
“Our partners are demonstrating that sustainable cotton can be used worldwide on a very broad basis in the textile industry. With Cotton made in Africa, textile companies can reconcile sustainability with profitability and contribute to the protection of the environment and to better working and living conditions for African smallholder farmers and their families,” said Tina Stridde, Managing Director of Cotton made in Africa, explaining the success of the initiative.
- CmiA cotton is grown by smallholder farmers only in different climatic zones in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just as divergent are the cotton harvest periods per country. To facilitate communication and to communicate reliable, up-to-date figures, the data such as the number of farmers rely on results from concluded harvest seasons CmiA cotton is grown, harvested and ginned in (West-and Central Africa 2016/2017; South and East Africa: 2017/2018).
About Cotton made in Africa
Entrepreneur Dr. Michael Otto started up Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) in 2005 as an independent initiative. The supporting organization behind the CmiA is the Aid by Trade Foundation (ABTF) which is based in Hamburg. Today it is the largest initiative for sustainably produced cotton in Africa, linking African smallholder farmers, trading companies and fashion brands with each other along the worldwide textile supply chain. Instead of operating a donation policy, its aim is to help people to help themselves through trade in order to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers (currently over one million) and their families in sub-Saharan Africa and to protect the environment. The smallholder farmers enjoy the benefit of training courses and better working conditions, with projects enabling their children to go to school and female smallholder farmers particularly targeted for support with a view to boosting their professional and social independence. Consumers can recognize Cotton made in Africa products by a little label and can do a good turn for the smallholder farmers and the environment with every purchase. 90 million textiles carried the CmiA label in 2017.