Aid by Trade FoundationThe Foundation

Sustainable development is essential to ensure viability for future generations, and to protect resources that are essential for life. That is the conviction which led Dr. Michael Otto to set up the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) in 2005 – initially with the name “Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry in Developing Countries” (FSAF); in 2007 the Foundation then changed its name to “Aid by Trade Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry”.

The name says it all – the Foundation and its Cotton made in Africa Initiative have set themselves the goal of contributing to improved conditions of life and protection of the environment in developing countries, and aims to achieve that mainly by activating market forces in the sales markets.

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Purpose of the Foundation

The purpose of the Aid by Trade Foundation is to promote environmental protection and improve the social conditions in developing countries. It also aims to improve development cooperation in developing countries by supporting the regional, sustainable cultivation of agricultural and forestry products and their processing. Africa is initially the main focus of the Foundation.

The goals of the Aid by Trade Foundation are reflected in the purpose of the Foundation. Top priority goes to combating poverty and protecting the environment. The Foundation is aimed at development cooperation through trade, with the support of the various partners from the business community, governments and NGOs. It not only supports sustainable cultivation of agricultural and forestry products, but also aims to build up the process chain locally, in order to generate as much value added as possible in the countries of production.

The Aid by Trade Foundation is a non-profit organisation, and does not pursue commercial goals.

The initiative

The Aid by Trade Foundation seeks to achieve its aims mainly by organisational and financial support to projects and initiatives. It is empowered by its Statutes to take action in a range of different ways and through different initiatives.

Cotton made in Africa is the first, and as yet the only initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation. It improves the conditions of life of cotton farmers and their families in Africa, and contributes to environmental protection by promoting sustainable methods of cultivation. In recent years, its main  focus was on building up strategic partnerships, a Demand Alliance, and the brand “Cotton made in Africa”, and on development of the verification system.

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  • To improve conditions of life of cotton farmers and their families in Africa.

  • To contribute to environmental protection by implementation of sustainable farming methods.

  • To build up strategic partnerships, a Demand Alliance and the “Cotton made in Africa” brand.

  • To develop the verification system.


The bodies of the Foundation are the Board of Trustees, the Advisory Board and the Management Board. The Management Board is responsible for management and administration of the Foundation, with the support of the Advisory Board, which acts in a consulting role. The highest ranking body of the Foundation is the Board of Trustees, chaired by Dr. Michael Otto, with international participation comprising leading personalities from environmental organisations, government and the business community.

Since October 2008, Atakora Fördergesellschaft GmbH has been responsible for the social marketing of the rights to the “Cotton made in Africa” brand.

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Teaser Milestones

Why do you support CmiA?Statements by business managers

More than 20 companies from the clothing sector are currently partners of the international Demand Alliance of Cotton made in Africa. Their reasons for joining the initiative vary widely, ranging from the good quality of African cotton to the idea of sustainability, to an authenticity bonus for their products.

Helping people to help themselvesWin-win situation for clothing suppliers and cotton farmers

Cotton made in Africa works on the principles of a social business. That means the initiative operates in accordance with sound business methods, except that is it does not aim to maximise the profits of individuals, but rather to improve the conditions of life of a large number of African cotton farmers ...