ECOM’s strategy has been to work with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to help it to become a mainstream program for the cotton sector. By partnering with independent 3rd party certification/verification programs, ECOM hopes to distinguish and support better farmers, to create a reliable supply of Better Cotton and linking with buyers beyond its direct clients to reduce risk.

ECOM views the BCI as an important tool for creating more stable and longer-term relationships in supply chains. Taking the risk out of supply chains through better practices and better relationships is better for buyers and for farmers. The priority is to provide a better, healthier cotton sector globally, in an industry with widely dispersed intermediaries and often weak market signals.

In 2011, ECOM made the first purchase and sale of Better Cotton from Mali, Brazil, and India and worked with BCI retailers on innovative commercial supply chain projects. The new gin and its associated agronomy and finance program is ECOM’s flagship cotton project.

Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) that improves the social, economic and environmental living conditions of cotton farmers in Sub Saharan Africa sustainably by activating market forces. Cotton made in Africa makes it possible to introduce sustainable cotton into the mass market by building up an international alliance of textile companies that purchase the sustainable CmiA cotton. The income generated is re-invested to finance its undertakings in the African project regions, for example in verification, training in sustainable cultivation and capacity building. Experts train the cotton farmers in modern, efficient and environmentally friendly farming methods that help them improve the quality of their cotton, yield more cotton and thus achieve a better income. The farmers can thereby strengthen their resilience towards external effects like volatile cotton prices and increasingly adverse climatic conditions, while preserving their own health and the environment. With its CmiA quality label, Cotton made in Africa gives the anonymous mass-produced cotton a positive and recognizable “face” in international trade. To ensure the smooth use of sustainable raw materials on the mass market, Cotton made in Africa supports companies to integrate CmiA cotton into their existing sourcing structures and corporates with international traders like ECOM. The partners can thus achieve their business sustainability goals without compromising on a value chain that is both pragmatic and optimized for cost and time. The Foundation thereby creates a win-win situation for smallholder cotton farmers in Africa as well as textile companies worldwide.