Interview with Paola Geremicca

 Paola Geremicca
Paola Geremicca
Director of Communication & Fundraising

How many brands are associated with BCI? What is the pricing structure for your certifications?

Currently, more than 50 retailers and brands are BCI members. BCI is a multi-stakeholder initiative, and we encourage participation from all sections of the supply chain. And we have a membership model where all members can benefit from being associated with Better Cotton, actively participate in its supply chain, and contribute to making the global cotton sector more sustainable for the future. BCI’s membership model includes a financial and traceability model that allows organisations to join at a level that suits their ambitions, capacity and interest. The fee structure takes several elements into consideration and varies depending on the membership category. Summary of membership fees by category - (Membership category Range) Retailers and brands 6,000 – 50,000 euro; Suppliers and manufacturers – Other intermediaries 1,000 – 11,000 euro; Suppliers and manufacturers – Cotton traders 1,000 – 24,000 euro; Suppliers and manufacturers – Financial institutions 500 – 20,000 euro; Civil society organisations 100 – 10,000 euro; Producer organisations 100 – 2,000 euro; Associate members 1,000 – 20,000 euro.

How many countries do you operate in? Which countries are you eyeing for the future?

Currently, BCI licenses farmers in 21 countries. We will soon be adding three more countries: South Africa, Madagascar and Kazakhstan.

What benefits can farmers avail with BCI certification?

Better Cotton farmers can experience higher yields, reduce synthetic pesticides and optimise fertiliser use, resulting in higher incomes from the cotton crop as compared to ‘comparison farmers’. Although it can be harder to measure, Better Cotton farmers, their families and communities can also experience ‘social’ benefits. Through training and awareness raising efforts, BCI is working with farmers and their communities to eliminate child labour, improve school attendance, promote gender equity, and improve health and safety conditions for on-farm workers.

What are your main sources for funding?

In 2015, our largest sources of income were from membership fees (60 per cent of total income), traceability fees (17 per cent) and institutional grants (17 per cent).

How are you trying to become financially independent?

We increased our membership by some 50 per cent in 2015, ending the year with 706 members, compared to 468 in 2014. In this way, we have steadily grown our membership income, reaching €2,988,542 in 2015, up from €2,224,186 in 2014. In addition, we introduced a new income stream with the Better Cotton Tracer user fee. We designed this service for fabric mills wishing to access the Better Cotton Tracer without being a BCI member. As demand for the service increases, we will make the option available to ‘cut and sew’ suppliers in 2016. We expect income from the service to grow in the future.

Please share your latest research findings.

There have been several external, independent reviews and research efforts to date. These efforts complement the work BCI does to measure annual results (as reported in the Harvest Reports) and outcome evaluations (BCI-commissioned quick studies into country-level outcomes of BCI projects) and have the potential to deepen understanding of BCI's impact. The most recent four such studies are described below. Ongoing: 1. CBS Research in Punjab/Gujarat, India and Punjab/Sindh, Pakistan (2014-2016) conducted by the Copenhagen Business School (CBS). The study seeks to assess how BCI's Standard was formulated, implemented, and monitored in South Asia and field-level impacts on farmers and workers. The methodology is primarily qualitative and the planned reports have not been finalised; therefore it is not published yet. We expect something late this year or next year. 2. Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts (DIPI) evaluation in Andhra Pradesh, India (2015- 2018) conducted by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI). Commissioned by ISEAL, funded by Ford Foundation. The objective is to demonstrate the contribution that voluntary standard systems can make to poverty alleviation and pro-poor development. There will be a baseline study and endline study; the baseline was completed in Q3 of 2015 and the report is available on ISEAL's website. Complete: 3. Study of BCI’s agronomic indicators, India, Mali, Pakistan (2012-2013) conducted by LEI Wageningen University. Commissioned by IDH. This review of the BCI agronomic indicators served to confirm the 2011 agronomic data as baseline in those three countries. The research findings were useful internally, for BCI and IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative), to evaluate aspects of results monitoring that needed strengthening in the initial phase of implementation. Since then, a majority of the study’s recommendations have progressively been put in place. BCI's organisational response is included in the final version of the report. 4. Review of Better Cotton and Decent Work, India, Mali, Pakistan (2012-2013) conducted by Ergon Associates. Commissioned by IDH. Outcomes of the review were to highlight successes in promoting decent work through the BCI Standard and projects, recommendations to BCI for new global social indicators (these have been implemented) and three country-level reports that provide insights into the decent work issues in each of the studied countries.
Published on: 08/06/2016

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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