The Aid by Trade Foundation is an umbrella organization for three cotton standards: Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Cotton made in Africa-Organic (CmiA-Organic) and the Sub-Saharan Cotton Standard (SCS). These standards were developed to improve the living conditions of African smallholder farmers and working conditions in ginning factories and to promote an environmentally friendly cotton production. Central to the standards are predetermined social, economic and ecological criteria. CmiA partners need to prove that standards are met in cotton cultivation and ginning factories.
All standards include a catalogue of criteria comprising exclusion criteria and sustainability criteria. Exclusion criteria must be fulfilled from the start. For the sustainability criteria, components are defined which must be fulfilled in stages. In binding management plans, the partners define in concrete terms how progress is to be achieved in order to fully meet all sustainability criteria. Independent auditors regularly check the fulfillment of the criteria and record the progress made.
The standards, associated criteria, and audit system were developed in close collaboration with experts at each link in the textile value chain and with representatives from research institutes, audit firms, and governmental and non-governmental organisations. An advisory board comprising experts from cotton producers and non-governmental organisations regularly reviews the verification system, and it continues to develop the system of standards in conjunction with the Aid by Trade Foundation. In addition, interested parties have the option of becoming involved in the consultation process to review the standards.