‘Helping people to help themselves’ through education

Cotton is an important component of our textiles and often comes from devel­oping and emerging markets. Together with the Aid by Trade Foundation, we are comitted to the promotion of sustainable cotton farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, we support educa­tional and vocational projects for the children of African cotton farmers, and promote the devel­opment of school infras­tructure.

Since 2008, we support the initiative Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) of the Aid by Trade Foundation, which focuses on the principle of “helping people help themselves”. It was founded to improve the lives of cotton farmers and their families in Sub-Saharan Africa. In trainings cotton farmers learn how to improve the quality and yield of their cotton, and are trained on about environ­men­tally friendly culti­vation methods. The higher yields also lead to an increase in income for the farmer. Already, around 650,000 small farmers have been trained. In the long term, these measures will help to make the small-scale agriculture environ­men­tally friendly and socially respon­sible. We support the initiative as a buyer of cotton for our products.

As part of our social commitment, we focus on educa­tional support measures for children in the CmiA growing regions of Benin and Zambia through two projects. Education is an important key to sustainable devel­opment and thus for better living condi­tions of cotton farmers.

School project in Benin

The West African Republic of Benin is one of the world's poorest countries. Approx­i­mately every third child drops out of primary school because the parents cannot afford to pay the tuition. In many places there are no schools. In October 2010, together with the Aid by Trade Foundation, the German devel­opment organ­i­sation GIZ, the German Investment and Devel­opment Cooper­ation DEG, the cotton company I.C.A. and a local foundation of CmiA, we launched the “Co-Education: Cotton for sustainable education” school project. The aim of the project was to enable more children to attend school and improve the quality of education. By the end of 2014, we had partic­i­pated in the construction and equipping of schools in six commu­nities of Benin. More than 750 children are now attending five newly built schools that are equipped with solar energy, wells and canteens. In many other schools, the facil­ities have been improved: 66 school gardens and canteens provide regular meals for children, 10,000 textbooks were purchased, and 20,000 locally produced school uniforms distributed. Through schol­ar­ships 600 fifth grade students were given important supplies, such as English and French dictio­naries, or solar-powered calcu­lators. Many children who had previ­ously not attended school, now had the oppor­tunity to do so. Overall, the project contributed to fewer children dropping out of school and more gradu­ating from high school. In addition, twelve wells were dug, to give the partic­i­pating commu­nities access to clean drinking water.

School project in Zambia

Zambia is located in southern Africa and, like Benin, is one of the poorest countries on Earth. Since 2012, together with the Aid by Trade Foundation, the DEG, the cotton company Cargill Zambia and the local commu­nities, Tchibo supports a school project in Zambia. Five new school buildings, including sanitary facil­ities, furniture and materials, were completed in February 2014. Each school has its own well, which helps to ensure that both the school children and the surrounding commu­nities have access to clean drinking water. In support of a healthy diet for the children, school gardens are planted and the children learn the basics of sustainable farming techniques. By the completion of the project in 2015, five additional school buildings with sanitary facil­ities, school gardens and wells will be built.