Textile production in developing countries. Can this be done sustainably?

75 million people work in the textile and apparel industry worldwide - especially women in developing and emerging countries in Asia and Africa. In recent years, the textile production sector has gained great importance within the national economies there. It often represents a large share of industrial production, contributes to job creation and can thus be a driver for economic development.

An important factor for the development of textile production in developing countries is the established supply chains to important sales markets such as Europe and North America. It enables goods to be made available quickly and cost-effectively through existing supply chains. In addition, many developing countries have a large labor force and comparatively low production costs.

The high price pressure on the globalized textile market often also affects local production conditions. For many workers, for example, there are no reliable social standards, and environmental standards and copyrights are not consistently observed. A change is therefore necessary in order to promote sustainable development in the sense of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations in the producing countries with the textile industry.

Great potential for sustainable development

For this reason, international development cooperation is concerned with how to improve the framework conditions and make the textile industry an engine for sustainable development. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) also promotes the introduction and recognition of environmental and social standards in the cooperation countries of German development cooperation. In the field of textile production (only available in German), there are corresponding programs in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Cambodia, for example. Among other things, the governments of these countries are advised on the design of labor and environmental legislation. In addition, the Green Button (only available in German), a government textile seal, was introduced in 2019 to protect people and the environment in the supply chain - from fiber to hanger.

The private sector is called upon

But companies and the private sector can also make an important contribution to making textile production in developing and emerging countries fairer and more sustainable. On the one hand, this can be achieved through industry initiatives that the brands themselves have taken: For example, the Fair Wear Foundation, which is committed to improving social conditions, compliance with ILO core labor standards and living wages, or seals such as the IVN Best from the International Association of the Natural Textile Industry, which also guarantees compliance with ILO core labor standards and ecological production.

Sustainable Textile Economy and leverist.de

On the other hand, companies can also enter into concrete business relationships in bilateral direct business with manufacturers from developing countries that are on a sustainable path. This can take place accompanied by German development cooperation, which offers various ways in which companies can participate in projects in developing countries or even establish direct trade relationships that benefit both sides.

The matchmaking platform leverist.de, for example, is a German development cooperation project that focuses on attracting companies from the private sector to participate in development cooperation projects. Here you can also find numerous business opportunities from the textile sector - from sustainable fashion from Uganda to cotton partnerships in Burkina Faso.

Discover all profitable and at the same time sustainable business opportunities from the textile sector in developing and emerging countries here.

Image copyright: Naomi Koelemans

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