Significant Growth in the Foundation’s Revenue and Results Benefits People, Animals, and the Environment

The total revenue of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), an internationally operating non-profit organization based in Hamburg, rose by 37 percent from the previous year to reach EUR 5.9 million in 2021. Of this sum, EUR 5.2 million was generated through the private-sector market activities of AbTF’s sustainability standards, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and The Good Cashmere Standard (GCS), and EUR 0.7 million primarily through donations and grants. Despite pandemic-related restrictions, program implementation expenses for both sustainability standards and for cooperation projects grew by nearly 30 percent, to EUR 3.1 million. This expenditure represents an investment in making a quantifiable and decisive contribution to improving the living conditions of people and animals and to protecting the environment.

In the 2021 financial year, the Aid by Trade Foundation was able to increase its total revenue by 37 percent, to EUR 5,937 thousand. These revenues were generated primarily from the marketing of Cotton made in Africa cotton and cashmere wool certified to The Good Cashmere Standard, and from donations and grants. Prof. Dr. Michael Otto, who established the foundation, sees the past year as a success, saying, “Help for self-help through trade is more important than ever before, especially at the global level. Making sure that trade in these goods is fair and using it as a catalyst for change in commodity-producing countries has been the Aid by Trade Foundation’s guiding principle for more than 15 years. Especially in light of recent events, it is important to remain committed to our work and to supply global textile value chains with sustainable raw materials. Together with new and existing partners from the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia, we are grappling with the challenges we face in innovative ways to make things better for people, animals, and nature.”

78 Percent of all Income is Spent to Address Challenges Facing People, Animals, and the Environment

In 2021, 78 percent of all income was spent to implement Cotton made in Africa and The Good Cashmere Standard, for example through activities aimed at protecting the environment and improving living conditions for one million small-scale farmers in ten countries in Africa, 3.3 million cashmere goats, and the 7,900 cashmere farmers in Inner Mongolia who were program members in 2021. Tina Stridde, the managing director of the foundation, says, “The continued growth in demand for Cotton made in Africa and The Good Cashmere Standard is a strong testimony to our work. We were able to significantly expand our network and further develop our efforts towards sustainable cotton cultivation in Africa and better animal welfare in Inner Mongolia.” The Aid by Trade Foundation and its partners stood together to face several major challenges in 2021, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as climate change and its impact on biodiversity and soil fertility. “Both Cotton made in Africa and The Good Cashmere Standard were founded with the aim of harnessing market forces in order to be part of the solution to challenges in sustainable cotton cultivation and certified cashmere harvesting. We will continue working on this in 2022,” concludes Stridde.

From the beginning, the foundation has been investing a lot of time in its training program for sustainable cotton cultivation in order to adapt farming practices to the effects of climate change while making them as efficient as possible. As key elements of regenerative agriculture, soil health and biodiversity are integral to CmiA’s standards and training programs. To more broadly support farming communities, people in cotton-growing regions in Africa are also served by cooperative projects addressing women’s empowerment, health, education, and environmental protection. From its inception to the end of 2021, the program built 116 wells, 452 latrines, and four health stations to ensure that basic health and hygiene needs could be met. Children are benefiting from 110 new or restored classrooms, 67 canteens, and 54 gardens that provide food at school. In addition, 82 women’s clubs received support, enabling female small-scale farmers to achieve social and financial independence. Furthermore, the foundation launched the CmiA Carbon Neutral Initiative to make a more climate-friendly textile supply chain possible; in 2021, 3,318 tonnes of CO2-neutral CmiA cotton were realized as part of the Initiative and the corresponding certificates were offset.
Through The Good Cashmere Standard, which was founded in 2020 as one of the world’s first standards for sustainable cashmere, the foundation has been working to make measurable improvements in animal welfare and to prioritize the implementation of suitable conditions for cashmere goats in Inner Mongolia, one of the world’s main producers of cashmere. To achieve long-term changes, AbTF’s focus in 2021 was on informational and awareness-raising activities with advice and support from experts, especially in animal welfare.

Growing Network and Demand for Cotton made in Africa and The Good Cashmere Standard

Demand for a certified sustainable alternative to conventional cashmere is enormous, not least due to animal rights organizations and changes in consumer behavior. Well-known retailers and fashion brands from Europe, Australia, and North America are already partners. In 2021, more than 30 international licensing partners hailing from seven countries brought around six million products to market under the label of The Good Cashmere Standard.

Cotton made in Africa has become a recognized standard for sustainable cotton from Africa and is in international demand. In 2021, 600 million CmiA textiles were brought to market more than double the previous year. Around 40 percent of all cotton produced in Africa is already certified by CmiA. In addition, the international partner network grew throughout the cotton value chain to encompass more than 2,000 partners, who cover everything from growing and trading cotton to textile production to retail.

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