Ashoka and C&A Foundation, the Dutch retailer’s philanthropic arm, are expanding a partnership on sustainable fashion with a €250,000 ($280,000) fund.
It may not sound like much, but the funds are meant for impact-focused textile startups that need a financial push to launch their businesses. “Once a scaling strategy is defined, one of the biggest remaining barriers is funding or investment to support strategy roll-out,” says Ashoka’s Nadine Freeman.
The funds will available to existing Ashoka fellows and split into 11 awards, the largest being a €100,000 “Social Impact” award. The Scaling Impact Fund also makes €30,000 available to a startup tackling gender justice and equality in the fashion and textile industry.
Incidents exposing labor conditions and abuses, like the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, and growing awareness about the water intensity, toxicity and waste in clothing production is spurring slow but evident change in the fashion industry.
“Sustainability or responsible innovation is by far the biggest trend in the industry right now,” says Eva Kruse, chief executive of Global Fashion Agenda. “And it’s not a philanthropic quest–this is a business development.”