Giving back is key to C&A and our employees, many of whom generously donate to and volunteer in their local communities. We make it easy and rewarding for our colleagues to do so. We bring individual actions together to create an impact that's greater than the sum of its parts. From in-store fundraising to volunteering, we're mobilising thousands of C&A employees the world over to play their own part in tackling societal issues in a way that's relevant and inspiring. As always, we allow each region to define how and where they would like to give back, to ensure their experience impacts and makes the most difference at a local level.
Connecting our stores and sourcing countries
Our first C&A Ambassadors’ trip took place with employees from Eastern Europe visiting India: a once-in-a-lifetime field trip to teach four store employees about Save the Children’s work on disaster risk reduction in Bengal with C&A Foundation. The Ambassadors had the opportunity to see for themselves the impact this support is having on communities and to visit a C&A supplier.
The four participants, Lea Muše from Croatia, Vesna Lazic and Neda Dolžan from Slovenia and Joanna Zawadzka from Poland, became C&A Ambassadors after their countries raised the most for the Mothers Make the Difference campaign in 2015.
“The main thing I learned on this trip is that even if people are disadvantaged, when they come together they do amazing things. Not only in India, but all over the world. We have to teach young children how to help themselves and how to work with their community, because together we are stronger. In the future, I will continue to be a C&A Ambassador by doing charity work and sharing my story with my friends, family and colleagues.” Neda Dolžan, C&A Ambassador
Watch the VIDEO
Nearly 16,000 C&A employees from Brazil, Mexico and our sourcing countries shared their stories and raised over €398,000 for 15 charities.
Helping customers vote to change lives with C&A Foundation
Customers in our European retail countries voted to decide how C&A Foundation should allocate a €500,000 donation between three charity initiatives in India and Bangladesh.
The projects in India focused on preventing forced labour in the garment industry and supporting cotton farmers as they adopt water-saving measures. The projects received €218,000 and €83,500 respectively. The third project run by Save The Children, in Bangladesh, received €198,500 to help improve working conditions for young people, like 19-year-old Sumi, who lives in Dhaka and is building her own successful business thanks to vocational training and support.
Like many vulnerable people in Dhaka's slums, Sumi and her family moved from a rural area in the hope of building a better life. But the reality of life in the big city was harder than anticipated. Her family struggled to make ends meet and Sumi had to leave school in class four, at 9 years of age. She took on casual embroidery work to bring in money, but dreamed of owning her own tailoring shop.
That dream came closer to reality one day when Sumi's brother found out about the Society for Underprivileged Families (SUF) and its EU CSR project, which is funded by the European Union and supported by Save the Children. Sumi completed a nine-month course in Industrial Garment Sewing and entrepreneurship training and, with her parents' blessing, started her business at home with just a single machine. After saving up bit by bit, she rented a shop and bought another machine. Now, her business is growing from strength to strength. Everyone in the community knows Sumi, and she earns enough money to look after her family.
Sumi is a real-life example of how education can lift people out of poverty. "Skills and education are the best way to get to earn a better living," she says, adding how grateful she is for the amazing opportunity she was given by the EU CSR project.
Store-giving across Europe
Our long-standing community-giving programme in Europe channels C&A Foundation funds into local charities nominated by local C&A retail organisations. It means we can harness our colleagues' knowledge of what their local community needs, boosting the effectiveness of our grants. It also gives staff the opportunity to engage more deeply with their community.
In total, 488 different initiatives in 18 European countries received €2.9million in 2016. C&A Foundation funds were distributed in various ways, including:
Giving time and skills
Instituto C&A developed activities for store employees to explore sustainability concepts and issues. The fun activities gave employees the chance to learn more about sustainability in general and how C&A Brazil is dealing with these issues.
At the Head Office, Instituto has engaged around 10% of the employees with volunteer activities directly related to sustainability in the fashion industry. The activities included mentoring social entrepreneurs so they could learn from experienced employees to unlock the power and potential of their solutions to transform the apparel industry as a force for good.
The New Hope Library (Biblioteca de Nova Esperança) was built in the Amazon by 35 C&A volunteers, with more than 500 donated books and a 25,700 investment from Instituto C&A. The project helps more than 300 people from the riverside communities around New Hope who would not otherwise have access to reading materials.
21 social entrepreneurs, paired with 21 specialists from across C&A, had one mission: make the apparel industry more sustainable. The Social Lab focused on the incubation and acceleration of great ideas, harnessing C&A expertise to hone the entrepreneurs’ ideas. A jury of sustainable fashion specialists and C&A leadership chose the three best initiatives to receive support and funding.
The first prize of €8,500 was won by DesFaz, for its idea of a digital ‘bible’ for sustainable ways of producing and consuming fashion. Second place was won by Banco de Tecidos (Fabric Bank), who promote reuse of spare fabric. Third place was won by Modellagio, who help creatives make more sustainable choices in the design of clothes.
A stitch in time
For the past nine years, C&A Mexico has sponsored a volunteering day for its HQ employees. An average of 123 employees spent eight hours in a local NGO, helping with construction, painting, gardening and playing with children. In 2015, the first open call for social projects was launched and we held the first volunteering for CDMX stores and distribution centres. 29% of our HQ and Distribution Centre employees took part.
In December 2016, we had a volunteering day in Guadalajara with 50 volunteers from HQ. We adapted a new building for a local NGO so it could be used for workshops, to teach sewing and clothes making.
Our communications approach is localised to ensure we engage and enable our customers to act on issues they care most about. Customers have told us that our charity work in their local communities could be more focused. It can be difficult to get the right balance between supporting local and global causes and charities, but we believe both approaches are necessary to balance local interest and capitalise on our scale and reach.
Europe: focusing on children’s wellbeing
Each year, we encourage our European stores to select a local charity of their choice. In 2017, the programme will be run under the name ‘C&A Together’ – focusing exclusively on children’s wellbeing. As part of this programme, in March 2017, C&A launched the #CandACharityCup campaign, encouraging children to sing a Cup Song and upload a photo or video to YouTube. For every upload, C&A Foundation will donate €5 to Save the Children.
Save the Children
We plan to continue our programme of charitable giving across Europe and deepen our relationship with Save the Children in Europe and Mexico throughout 2017.