Imagine businesses making a positive impact on the communities they touch. And employees changing the world for the better.
That's the world we're trying to create in partnership with C&A. And it's a world that we need now more than ever.
Many of the countries C&A source from are disproportionally affected by natural disasters and disease outbreak. And poverty, gender inequality and educational disparity are real issues in the communities where C&A employees live.
Superficial change won't help. To truly strengthen the most vulnerable communities, we must get to the root cause of these complex challenges. And we have to bring people on the journey with us. Making positive change relevant and attainable for individuals will vastly improve our chances of making a long-term positive impact for people around the world.
In this section
Strength in the face of disaster
Rinki Devi shows how Save the Children's Disaster Risk Reduction programme is helping her and her community better cope with challenges in urban slums.READ MORECJ Clarke/Save The Children
Creating a stable economy for female artisans
Alejandra Ibarra explains how the Inspiring Women campaign is supporting artisans and seeting a precedent for industry change.READ MOREJuancarlos Sosa
A legacy of volunteering
An recent evaluation reveals the strengths and weaknesses of C&A's longstanding volunteer programme in Brazil.READ MOREBen LangdonKristijan Aranjos’, MEX Productions
Together with Save the Children, we're finding new ways to support women and children in high-risk urban environments prone to natural disasters disease outbreak and even violence. Rinki Devi explains how the support she receives from Save the Children in India is building the resilience of her family and the wider community so that they can better cope with disasters and risks in their everyday life.
My family and I have lived in Rajasthani camp for 11 years. I have two children: Adrea, who’s 11, and Barat, who's nine. It's become very neat and clean here at Rajasthani camp and I'd welcome anyone to come visit. But there have been disasters here over the years. One happened just a few months ago.
There was an outbreak of Chikungunya, a disease passed on to humans through infected mosquitos. I was the first to fall ill in my family, and then everyone was affected. I’ve been self-sufficient my whole life but because I was so unwell, I couldn't work. I had to borrow money for hospital bills and medication. I was so sorry that I couldn't look after my children properly.
When I was ill, a work friend contacted a leading newspaper about the situation in Rajasthani camp. An editor came to my house and interviewed me. I told them all about the dirt and what it was doing to families. When the interview was published, more media channels picked the story up.
But I knew that to make more change, our community had to work together. The gutters in the camp were a big problem for us. Left open and filled with waste, they are a breeding ground for mosquitos, which allows diseases like Chikungunya to spread easily. So, I gathered a group of twelve mothers together. We went to the local authorities and explained all of this, and how small children fall into open gutters.
By working together and speaking out together, we made the local authorities take action. They covered the gutters and now mosquito breeding has reduced substantially.
With Save the Children, I learnt the importance of tackling problems collectively. They've been coming here for the past year and a half, working with us to understand the problems we face and find ways to solve them.
We've learnt technical skills, like how to spot early warning signs of disasters or illnesses; first aid; and how to evacuate if disaster strikes. But for me, the most important thing I've learnt is how to make my voice heard. I’ve learnt how to control myself, stay calm in the face of disaster and do something about it. This isn't just good for me. I'm passing on everything I learn to my children, my wider family and my neighbours.
In the past, people here would just think “oh that person’s house is dirty”. But Save the Children have helped us understand this affects all of us. And most importantly, if we have to solve a problem, we have to do it together.
Thanks to the programme, my network has increased and I can reach out to and learn from more people than ever before. Tackling the Chikungunya outbreak shows just how strong our community can be when we're working together. –
The importance of disaster
of those affected by natural disasters worldwide are children
Women and children are 14x more likely to die in disasters
$1 saves $7
For every dollar spent on DRR measures, $7 in post disaster recovery can be saved
Reaching 118,781 mothers and children directly. We expect 300,000+ people to indirectly benefit from risk reduction measures and policies.
Our aim is to strengthen the capacity of mothers and children to overcome the challenges in their everyday life. We are doing this by piloting innovative risk reduction approaches in urban settings in five countries – Brazil, Mexico, China, India and Bangladesh
How we're building
Focus on mothers and children
We are focusing on mothers and children in urban slums and marginalised areas of five developing countries, not only because they are the most vulnerable populations to urban hazards, but because they are the most of change. With the right information and tools, mothers and children can transform their own households and slums into safer environments and make their communities more resilient to shocks.
Share what works
Each of the five countries we work in face distinct challenges. That's why in Bangladesh, we focus on risk management for women and garment workers. And in Mexico and China, we focus on school safety.However, country teams are sharing what they learn with each other - the challenges, the solutions and the evidence for that works and why. This cross-country learning will help us create an overall framework of learning that we can build on for the future.
Create the evidence base
We are conducting Disaster Risk Reduction research, a suite of studies that will provide an evidence base for DRR programming. Based on pre-existing data on disasters from 17 countries, we are collating insights on tools, policies and programme approaches that work. This will help us decide what to scale, or what to leave behind.
Convene and inspire others
One partnership to improve the resilience of women and children can only go so far.We want to make an impact that's greater than the sum of our parts. We share learnings of the five country programmes and the research element of the initiative within Save the Children and also with the entire global Disaster Risk Reduction sector. We do this through participation in forums, platforms, panels and meetings, such as the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Through this biennial forum, an environment of likeminded programmes, institutions and people can share knowledge, discuss developments and build partnerships. This has the potential to accelerate the entire field.
C&A Foundation and C&A’s Inspiring Women campaign aims to empower women in the communities where C&A operates. Alejandra Ibarra from Red Niu Matat Napawika in Mexico explains how the campaign’s funding is helping her organisation build strong foundations and set a precedent for change.
Our aim at Red Niu Matat Napawika is to improve female artisans' quality of life through improving their economic situations. We're the bridge between these women and the global market, helping them secure sales while still being able to produce their craft in a way that maintains the cultural richness of Mexico.
Through C&A and C&A Foundation's Inspiring Women campaign, we're supporting female artisans in Chiapas. We're creating a stable market so that artisans can become more financially independent.
So far, we've introduced schemes to improve access to raw materials in the community. Bringing raw materials closer to home means the women don't have to travel as far to get it, which in return saves them money and time. This also secures constant supply of high quality materials at better prices, which allows artisans to deliver their products for their customers on time.
We are also working to establish a community development centre in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, where artisans will learn how to use new tools and equipment to create their craft with less physical effort. This community centre will also be used as a point of reunion for women to come together and share what they're learning. Women earning an income isn't as common in the region and can cause problems within families, such as domestic violence. By having a space to gather, women can talk openly, share their stories and find their voices.
One of the latest projects we've developed is in collaboration with C&A. Artisans have created handwoven front and back pockets for a range of denim shorts that are being sold in 71 C&A stores. This is a great moment. A lot of brands in Latin America replicate artisanal crafts in fashion lines and artisans aren't protected. C&A have taken the stance to work with real artisans and it's made such a positive impact. In a single month, the women's income increased by 152%.
I hope more major brands will follow in C&A's footsteps and include artisans in their processes. It reduces poverty, empowers women, and gives customers the chance to make a positive impact through their purchase. It's also good for business. C&A get to sell a unique line and connect with their customers in new and interesting ways.
Together with C&A and C&A Foundation, we're creating opportunities for women that are hard to find in Mexico. We're creating stability, securing incomes and, I hope, setting the precedent for the textile industry to follow. –
artisan women participated
increase in their
2016 was the second year the flagship C&A employee engagement campaign: Inspiring Women. The campaign ran in: Brazil, Mexico
C&A employee Cristiane shares her experience of volunteering and why she believes it’s so important – for the children she supports, and for herself.
Since the volunteer programme began, over 20,000 C&A employees have volunteered their time to support children in their local communities. But how successful has this volunteering been? In a recent evaluation, we uncovered the strengths and weaknesses of the Employee Volunteering Programme and how it needs to evolve to become more effective for the future.
Volunteering is a tradition that runs deep in Brazilian culture. It started more than 200 years ago when the church ran hospitals and housing initiatives. It is expressed today through the corporate volunteer movement, which began in the early 1990s. Brazil is a country with a lot of social inequalities, so many people feel connected to social issues. If they have the opportunity to help, they do.
In 1991, C&A and Instituto C&A Brazil launched the Employee Volunteering Programme (EVP). Twenty-six years on, the spirit of volunteering is still well and truly alive and part of the company DNA. Around 2,500 C&A employees from 120 Brazilian cities, across 25 of the country’s 26 states are engaged.
But interestingly, for a programme that's been running for so long and has investment of around $3 million each year, it had never been evaluated with much detail or rigour. We needed to properly understand its strengths and weaknesses, and in doing so, find opportunities to improve it.
In the last programme cycle (2013-2015), the objectives were to enhance the volunteering culture within C&A; improve volunteer social participation; develop the organisation to improve the quality of education for children; and to strength access to quality education.
So, what did we find? First and foremost, volunteers benefitted from the EVP. The programme improved professional and personal development. It also gave volunteers a greater understanding of children’s rights and social injustices.
And one of the bright stars of the EVP was the ‘bazaar'. With the help of volunteers, community organisations sell surplus C&A clothing to raise funds. It’s the equivalent of a small grants mechanism, which gives organisations cash flow for things like books, essential food stocks and building renovation. One organisation built a playground for children with funds raised through the bazaar.
But the most surprising and important result was just how few tangible outcomes there were for community organisations and children. Expectations of the programme were high and there was a lot of passion for it, but that didn't translate to impact.
This shows that we have to be realistic. Volunteers aren't educators. They're not capacity building experts and won't ever be. But they are very good at delivering play and fun activities for children. Going forward, we'll take the thing that volunteers are good at and add more structure to it.
The strong culture of volunteering in Brazil, coupled with the fact that C&A allows employees to volunteer in company time means there's something quite magnetic about this programme. We know that social inequality and education are close to volunteers' hearts. You don't have to go far from a C&A store in Recife, Rio or San Paolo to see the poverty and educational deprivation. So, the programme will be re-built with this in mind.
However, it's clear we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and re-think exactly what this programme can deliver for the children and communities in Brazil. But by taking what we’ve learnt from the evaluation, we'll be able to build a stronger programme for the future. We can continue to mobilise thousands of C&A employees to play their own unique role in tackling the social issues in across Brazil. –
Total estimated cost
of EVP in 2015:
community organisations, reaching approximately
In 2015, the bazaars may have generated between a total of:
Money spent on:
Results for volunteers
reported the EVP
improved work duties
of volunteers participate to
contribute to development
of Brazilian society
of volunteers reported
the EVP enables them to
get to know social reality
different from their own