Want Fair-trade African Cotton? Here's How to Get It

The Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) has launched a new partnership in North America. Mary Marino, a fashion executive with deep experience in the U.S. apparel and textile market, joins AbTF as director, North America to advise the Hamburg-based foundation on collaborations with U.S. apparel, footwear and home goods companies. The foundation's Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative is based on the principle of a social business strategy by improving the quality of life for smallholder cotton farmers in Africa through sustainable cotton production. By activating market forces, AbTF enables textile companies and finished goods manufacturers to integrate CmiA cotton into their product design and development with a profit-oriented global market approach and duty-free sourcing opportunities.

By means of its partnership with Marino, the Aid by Trade Foundation aims at opening up new sales potential for the sustainably produced African cotton offered by Cotton made in Africa in the U.S. market. "I am very excited about the partnership with Cotton made in Africa as the initiative combines the opportunity for social and sustainable responsibility with  profitable supply chains for fashion brands and textile companies," Marino says of the partnership. "I have been impressed by the reach and impact of CmiA's work on the ground in Africa and its potential commercial impact for brands worldwide."

Marino, who has extensive experience in product development, sourcing and sales with a special emphasis on iconic lifestyle and legacy brand startups, is optimistic with regard to the development of the CmiA initiative in North America. This approach makes sustainable materials available at market prices, which provides a turn-key solution for U.S. companies to combine strategies for sustainability and profitability at the same time.

"To ensure the smooth use of sustainable raw materials on the mass market, Cotton made in Africa offers advice and support on implementing CmiA cotton into  existing sourcing structures," adds Tina Stridde, managing director and responsible for sales at AbTF in Hamburg. With CmiA the partners can thus achieve their business sustainability goals without compromising on a global value chain that is both pragmatic and optimized for cost and time.

Cotton made in Africa currently works in eight Sub-Saharan African countries to help smallholder cotton farmers improve themselves through trade. Earnings generated from its business activities are spent on generating social and ecological impact in the African project countries - e.g. by financing business trainings for the farmers, women cooperatives, building up school infrastructure for the children or securing clean drinking water supply for the communities where CmiA cotton is grown. Through its sustainable cultivation methods, Cotton made in Africa cotton reduces the negative impact on the global climate change as it saves more than 2,000 liters of water in comparison to the global average and emits up to 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cotton per kilo of cotton fiber.
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