Cotton Made in Africa

The Cotton Made in Africa initiative, celebrating 10 years, saw significant growth last year, according to its annual report released Wednesday.

The organization said about 30.5 million textiles bearing the Cotton Made in Africa seal were placed on the market last year. Revenue from the initiative’s licenses once again exceeded 1 million euros, or $1.12 million.

The group cited the positive development of the Otto Group, which grew by 84.7 percent in comparison with the previous year with about 18.8 million initiative items.

Marketing of the licenses to textile companies worldwide is the task of Atakora GmbH, which received from the Aid by Trade Foundation sole marketing rights to the brand. Atakora returned about 530,000 euros, or $592,000, in revenue to the foundation from the licensing business in the year, about double the value of the previous year.

The Aid by Trade Foundation was founded in 2005 by Michael Otto to improve the living conditions of smallholders in many African countries and protect the environment.

The partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative yielded revenue totaling 258,000 euros, or $288,000, in the year for use of Cotton Made in Africa cotton in the supply chains of BCI customers.

The international expansion of sales markets was also an important task in 2015, with particular focus on France, Scandinavia and Great Britain, the report said.

“Despite challenging conditions in the European markets, characterized by high price sensitivity among companies and even lower awareness of sustainable textiles among consumers, CmiA held its ground well on the international stage,” the report said. “The initiative was able to acquire two new international customers in the British online provider ASOS and Danish Bestseller group. Not only do both companies use the African cotton, they also have it processed on the African continent, resulting in even greater added value on site.”

Two new demand partners were also added from the U.S. market in 2015 — home textile manufacturer 1888 Mills markets its own collection via Amazon and is principally active in the commercial sector, while Crate and Barrel also started using Cotton Made in Africa for its products in 2015.

Aid by Trade yielded a contribution of 980,000 euros, or $1.1 million, to training measures for smallholders and accompanying cooperation projects within the scope of project implementation in 2015, which represents a 32 percent increase in comparison with the previous year.

Consolidated annual profits totaling 203,000 euros, or $227,000 were realized in 2015, providing a strong foundation for further investments in 2016 in program implementation and increased Cotton Made in Africa marketing.

About 8 percent of cotton traded worldwide is harvested in sub-Saharan Africa. The cotton is cultivated almost entirely by small farmers who face challenges such as fluctuating global market prices, low productivity rates and poor infrastructure.

Cotton Made in Africa has set its sights on improving the living conditions of cotton farmers and their families in a lasting way. CmiA supports the farmers in growing their cotton effectively through intelligent cultivation of the space, using pesticide only when completely necessary, so they can generate greater income and afford to send their children to school.

In 2015, about 750,000 smallholders were verified with a production volume of just under 400,000 tons of lint cotton in accordance with the CmiA, CmiA-Organic and SCS standards.

Twenty-two verification missions were carried out to examine the criteria for cotton production and ginning factories. The number of companies verified according to Cotton Made in Africa and SCS increased to 19 cotton companies in 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Seven more companies were taken on during the year.

The initiative invests the revenue from license fees in areas such as co-financing agricultural training, investing it in the verification of standards and in cooperation projects in African cotton-growing areas.

Cotton Made in Africa is working with 67 spinning mills. In the year, about 87,000 tons of the initiative’s cotton and SCS cotton was marketed worldwide, directly and through dealers within the framework of the partnership with BCI.

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