Inspirational winners rise to the challenge

by Stephanie Klotz on Nov 27, 2014

The winners of the Living Wage Innovation Challenge, presented by C&A Foundation and The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL), have delivered inspiring ideas on how to provide fairer conditions for people working in the garment supply chain.

In the challenging context of a globalised textile industry, getting to a living wage is a complex journey where multiple actors – government, employers, buyers, workers' representatives and unions and consumer champions – all have a critical role to play. As those actors step into place, even the smallest innovations can have a 'nudging' effect.

For C&A Foundation, improving working conditions and workers' wellbeing is central to our mission and a critical pillar of our strategy. We want to support and drive initiatives that help transform the way the industry works and that is why the foundation, together with HiiL, designed the Living Wage Innovation Challenge. It is meant to identify and scale those enablers that can help create more transparency, a stronger worker voice, more shared value, and ultimately, better livelihoods for the men and women who work in the garment industry.

More than 40 innovations were nominated from around the world, and nine finalists were invited to deliver their pitches at the 5th Annual Innovating Justice Forum in The Hague, where three winners were announced.

The event brought together innovators, funders and experts in the fields of justice and living wages for two days of networking, idea exchanging, speakers and discussions, with the Living Wages Innovation Challenge taking centre stage.

'The event really brought home the fact that a living wage is a human right' said Ilan Vuddumalay, from C&A Foundation. 'And not having it, or being able to negotiate it is an issue of justice.'

Preceding the awards ceremony, an interesting panel discussion on living wage set the context for the awards. The panel, comprised of Jenny Holdcroft (IndustriALL), Henrik Lindholm (Nudie Jeans Co), and John Morrison (Institute for Business and Human Rights) stressed the systemic nature of the living wage challenge

Made in Africa won first prize for its unique approach to improving working conditions in apparel factories in south, east and west Africa. It plans to set up a Trade Financing Fund to incentivise factories to improve their social and environmental impact by offering better interest rates. Project Just and wageindicator.org took second and third places respectively.

Wilfred de Wever, Head of Innovating Justice Hub at HiiL,said: “This year's Innovating Justice Forum offered a great platform for exchanging ideas among innovators and with justice and living wage experts.

“Together, we can build iconic projects that will boost the development of reasonably fair and stable business environments."

Find out more about the winners and nominated entries.

“Together, we can build iconic projects that will boost the development of reasonably fair and stable business environments.”

Head of Innovating Justice Hub, HiiL Wilfred de Wever