Kwale Cotton Project

by Business for Development



One of the key drivers to solving extreme poverty is through inclusive economic growth and working in partnership with businesses. This project links Cotton On Groups’ need to source sustainable cotton with Base Titanium’s need to develop strong livelihood programs. As a result the partnership has resulted economically empowering thousands of famers and their families.

Project implemented: 2014

Project goal

Designed to encourage a step change in thinking amongst the farmers on how they farm to drive a greater focus on yields. As a result, these farmers have the potential to go from growing sufficient corn to providing a commercial crop, cotton, to a multinational clothing manufacturer and creating greater income earning potential through market linkages.

delivering on

why is this project important?

All sectors – may it be mining, retail or even international development – need to question the status quo and ask themselves how is there a better way we can operate not just for the benefit of our customers, but also for the people and planet. This project and the partners working on the project are demonstrating that every Australian business can look down their value chain and make a positive impact.

Key steps to make it happen

1Scoping study

Explore commodities & understand if it's:
Desirable for farmers
Feasible to grow
Viable financially and there is a buyer


Collaborate to bring new thinking to complex challenges and align roles and responsibilities to achieve positive outcomes


Pilot new commodity(s), train farmers to improve yield & quality; test shipment to buyer & establish governance structures.


Once the pilot proves the model works, the focus is on scaling up and positively impacting more farmers.

impact to date

By 2020 Kwale cotton will supply 25% of Cotton On's cotton.
700 tonne of Kwale cotton was harvested in 2017 = 2.2 million T-Shirts
10,000 Farmers
The program is designed to support 10,000 farmers by 2020

FINANCE: 67% of farmers involved in the program have little income and are subsistent. Due to lack of capital, farmers lacked the ability to purchase farm inputs. The project exposed households to training in banking, financial management and budgeting. B4D worked with a small community owned and operated bank. Following formation of the farmers’ co-operative members have been provided access to credit through this banking relationship.

MARKET ACCESS: The community was engaged in every aspect of plan development and its execution, thus providing clarity of infrastructural gaps or capacity weaknesses. By Including private enterprise in the partnership, it demonstrated the commerciality of the opportunity & through this elevated the availability of services/products.

EXISTING APPROACH TO FARMING: The farmers had very traditional farming practices. Farmers were previously unaware of the techniques to reduce risk of crop failure. B4D worked with them and built an understanding of soil testing and management; site preparation; the importance of nutrients; fresh/certified seed; crop monitoring and invested in crop protection. As a result, successful yields were achieved.


The partnership between Base Titanium, Cotton On Group and DFAT aims to establish ethical cotton production in Kenya. With cotton production having been successfully piloted since 2014, the objective of this partnership is to accelerate production to include more of the 10,000 smallholder farmers in Kwale County, Kenya, many of whom currently live in extreme poverty.

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