C&A—and C&A Foundation—Build a Sustainable Supply of Organic Cotton

Cotton is used to make more than 30 percent of the garments produced worldwide, but only one percent of the cotton supply is raised using organic farming practices. Organic cotton presents a more sustainable alternative to conventional cotton growing. European clothing company C&A wanted to take steps to guarantee cotton supplies for the future, but it soon decided that the impact it could have alone was not enough.

To influence all the players in the supply chain, C&A Foundation, the philanthropic organization affiliated with C&A, partnered with the Shell Foundation and the nonprofit Textile Exchange (then called Organic Exchange) to form the social enterprise CottonConnect. CottonConnect works with textile manufacturers and clothing retailers to develop organic sourcing strategies, and to redesign their supply chains. CottonConnect also educates farmers in sustainable growing practices, and works with farm communities to develop needed social services. CottonConnect is not a broker, but it will connect manufacturers or retailers with farmer cooperatives. At the end of 2013, CottonConnect was working with farmers in India, Pakistan, and China, and had engaged with international clothing giants like Burberry, H&M, IKEA, Inditex (parent of Zara), Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, and Walmart. Today, C&A Foundation continues as a shareholder and board member of CottonConnect.