Reliable Hosiery is the first Canadian company to join the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) demand alliance. The Aid by Trade Foundation, CmiA's supporting organization, and the Canadian hosiery manufacturer signed a memorandum of understanding last week. This agreement further strengthens and expands CmiA's international demand alliance and will grow the distribution end of the initiative. Having a direct effect on the smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, the initiative works with and ultimately supports sustainable cotton cultivation.
Founded in 1959, Reliable Hosiery is the leading manufacturer of hosiery products in Canada. Unusual for a North American garment firm, its entire production line is still located in Montreal. "Taking responsibility is important to us," said Hermann Gruenwald, the president and owner of Reliable. He strongly believes that even in a highly competitive global economy, retailers and consumers have a desire to support sustainable initiatives like this one. "This applies equally to our employees here in Canada and to the people who produce the raw materials for our products."
Cotton made in Africa provides a source of cotton that is both environmentally and socially friendly and as such contributes directly to changing the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa for the better.
Reliable Hosiery plans to offer an individual collection of Cotton made in Africa products and to emphasize the special raw materials in their public relations. Both partners have agreed on exclusivity in Canada for the hosiery products. "With Reliable Hosiery we have brought a highly motivated customer on board who will work closely with us to establish Cotton made in Africa in Canada. We are looking forward to working together," Aid by Trade Foundation Managing Director Tina Stridde said.
Cotton made in Africa works with five African countries and a total of 240,000 smallholder farmers. The initiative's most important goals are to improve farmers' incomes and improve environmental protection in cotton production. To this end the initiative focuses in particular on teaching more efficient cultivation methods through training measures and on increasing the demand of an alliance of textile companies in Europe and North America. Over 20 companies have joined the CmiA initiative and use the cotton to produce their textiles. They pay a small license fee to the initiative which is passed on to the project countries in keeping with the foundation's credo to help people help themselves through trade.
For the outreach to the North American market the Cotton made in Africa initiative is working together with the labor standards organization Social Accountability International (SAI) based in New York City. SAI supports the initiative by working to improve the social performance of the spinning mills involved and introducing the program to North American companies.
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