Better Cotton, in Collaboration with African Export-Import Bank, Joins WTO and FIFA Efforts to Scale More Sustainable Cotton Production in Africa


Collaboration for Cotton Production

  • Better Cotton will conduct sustainability mapping and assessments in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire to better understand smallholder cotton farmer operations and needs.
  • The project will complement an existing partnership between WTO and FIFA which focuses on developing raw material production and processing in key countries in West and Central Africa.
  • Better Cotton has programmes across Africa in Egypt, Mali, Mozambique and Côte d’Ivoire.

30 April, Geneva – Better Cotton, the world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative, is to conduct sustainability mapping and assessments in West and Central Africa to enhance its understanding of the needs of smallholder farmers in the region and identify context-specific interventions.

Funded by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), these assessments will inform ways in which targeted support can aid the production of more sustainable and regenerative cotton across Better Cotton’s programs in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire – which engage a combined 200,000 farmers and farm workers.

This collaboration between Better Cotton and Afreximbank is part of wider efforts on the continent, led by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and football governing body FIFA, which aim to support the development of the cotton-to-textile value chain in West and Central Africa and improve economic returns for the sector.

In 2022, the WTO and FIFA formalised a partnership to enhance the participation of Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, and Mali – known as the Cotton Four (C4) – as well as neighboring countries like Côte d’Ivoire, within apparel value chains.

In February of this year, the pair officially launched a coalition, ‘Partenariat pour le Coton’ – of which Better Cotton is a member – to accelerate work on this front.

In doing so, they issued a call for investment, emphasising that the current balance of exporting 90% cotton raw material falls short of the region’s economic potential. While raw material exports generate vital revenues, organisations active on the continent believe there is scope to bolster local processing capacities in order to boost incomes.

Better Cotton’s assessments – conducted with support from its Programme Partners in Mali and Côte d’Ivoire – will connect farming communities to the WTO and FIFA’s mission to strengthen supply chains in the region.

Better Cotton remains committed to Africa and continues to build upon its presence on the continent. In November 2023, the organisation launched its programme in Côte d’Ivoire and co-hosted an event in Chad to discuss opportunities to establish a programme in the country.

Alan McClay, Chief Executive Officer at Better Cotton, commented: “Africa is a vibrant and exciting region for cotton production and our expansion on the continent is demonstrative of that. At the heart of our mission are cotton farmers, workers and the surrounding communities – these assessments will help optimise our efforts and pave the way for continued sustainable economic development across Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.”

Kanayo Awani, Executive Vice President, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank, said: “Through initiatives like these, we are committed to supporting Africa’s smallholder farmers and the entire cotton value chain, enabling them to extract maximum value from their produce, boost value addition, attain higher levels of sustainability and improve quality, all while prioritising superior products with global market potential.”


Better Cotton is the world’s largest cotton sustainability initiative. Our mission: to help cotton communities survive and thrive, while protecting and restoring the environment. In challenging times, we are meeting the challenge head on. In the 2021-22 cotton season, through our network of field-level partners, 22% of global cotton production was Better Cotton, grown in 22 countries around the world. Our programmes reached 2.8 million farmers, which included more than 2.2 million Better Cotton licensed farmers. Over one fifth of the world’s cotton is now grown under the Better Cotton Standard.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. For 30 years, the Bank has been deploying innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has launched a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Working with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the AU, the Bank is setting up a US$10 billion Adjustment Fund to support countries to effectively participate in the AfCFTA. At the end of December 2023, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at over US$37.3 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$6.1 billion. The Bank disbursed more than US$104 billion between 2016 and 2023. Afreximbank has investment grade ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A), Moody’s (Baa1), Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) (A-) and Fitch (BBB). Afreximbank has evolved into a group entity comprising the Bank, its impact fund subsidiary called the Fund for Export Development Africa (FEDA), and its insurance management subsidiary, AfrexInsure, (together, “the Group”). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

Bhargav Pathak
Bhargav Pathak
With a passion for the textile, apparel, and fashion industry, I embarked on a journey fueled by education from NIFT Gandhinagar and affiliation with NDBI at NID Ahmedabad. Since 2006, I've contributed to various corporate ventures, specializing in B2B, B2C, SaaS, and AI products within the textile domain. In July 2023, I launched, a knowledge hub offering the latest news, articles, and soon-to-come features like interviews and a trade fair calendar. Grateful for the growing community, we've recently introduced a Business Directory for enhanced visibility. Join us on LinkedIn and stay connected with the ever-evolving textile landscape!

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