Apparel Industry Innovators Win Award to Scale Their Impact


Today, Ashoka and the C&A Foundation announced winners of the “Scaling Impact Fund" as part of their Fabric of Change initiative, supporting social innovation for a sustainable apparel industry. Winners receive prizes totalling €250,000, to help implement their scaling strategy plans.

The fund, which was launched at the Fabric of Change 'Globalizer' Event in Bangalore India on May 26th 2017, awards financial support to participating social entrepreneurs to facilitate transition from strategy planning to strategy implementation.

“Once a clear and robust scaling strategy is defined, typically one of the biggest remaining barriers is funding or investment to support strategy roll-out. The Scaling Impact Fund will give these social entrepreneurs the seed funding to take their impact to scale" said Nadine Freeman, Co-Director of Ashoka's Globalizer Program

With women comprising over 80% of apparel workers worldwide, gender justice is also critical to achieving sustainable and transformative change in the apparel industry. The Gender Justice Award, as part of the Scaling Impact Fund, reflects this as an area of strategic focus when scaling impact for systemic change.

“Once a clear and robust scaling strategy is defined, typically one of the biggest remaining barriers is funding or investment to support strategy roll-out. The Scaling Impact Fund will give these social entrepreneurs the seed funding to take their impact to scale.”

Co-Director of Ashoka's Globalizer Program Nadine Freeman

“We want to reward innovators that are challenging harmful gender norms, said Kavita N Ramdas, Strategy Advisor at MADRE & former CEO, Global Fund for Women, “and ultimately transform gender relations by engaging both women and men as agents of change and strengthening women's voice and leadership."

The winners are:

  • Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director of CanopyStyle - for the Impact Award of €100,000 - For their strategy designed to transform the environmental impact of clothing on forests by working with brands and producers to eliminate controversial and endangered forest fibre sources through shifting sourcing policies, and kick-starting commercial scale production of circular economy alternatives. Watch Nicole speaking about her strategy here.
  • Rebecca van Bergen, Founder and Executive Director, Nest - for the Gender Justice Award of €30,000 - For their strategy that focuses on building a new model and process around ethical compliance for artisans and home workers in the informal economy, the vast majority of whom are women. Nest is creating an industry-wide set of standards that map to affordable remediation solutions.
  • Ben Cokelet, Founder and Executive Director, PODER - for the Peer Award of €25,000 - For their strategy to launch MMTAP, a platform to improve conditions for maquiladora workers, starting with garment manufacturers, catalysing a race to the top by reducing information asymmetries and eliminating plausible deniability of multinational companies brand executives.
  • Hazer Gul, Founder and Executive Director, Islampur Cottage Industry Association (ICIA) - for the Peer Award of €25,000 - For their strategy in creating a social, cultural, political and economic space for the artisans of cottage industries in Islampur, Pakistan. The role of ICIA is the benevolent 'middleman' - empowering weavers with the information, skills and capital they need to better negotiate with the existing middle men, in order to retain more economic value.

  • To view all participating social entrepreneurs, head to the Ashoka Globalizer website.

    Scaling Impact Fund Judging Panel: Kavita Ramdas, Philanthropy Changemaker and Feminist Activist; Doug Cahn, Principal, The Cahn Group; Aditi Wanchoo, Senior Manager - Development Partnerships Social & Environmental Affairs, APAC at Adidas Group; Rizwan Tayabali, CEO at Make A Difference; Nadine Freeman, Co-Director Ashoka Globalizer


    For press enquiries, please contact:

    Stephanie Klotz
    Communications Manager, C&A Foundation
    Phone: +49 211 9872-4557

    Felicity McLean
    Communications Strategist, Ashoka
    Phone: +447762054333

    FABRIC OF CHANGE Launched in 2015, the joint initiative Fabric of Change supports innovators at various stages of their development, unlocking the unique power and potential of social entrepreneurs and their solutions to advance a shared vision: transforming the apparel industry as a force for good. Twitter: #FabricofChange

    ASHOKA is the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs—individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world's biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into national, regional and global social impact. Over 35 years, we have supported more than 3,300 social entrepreneurs in 90 countries with solutions addressing society's most pressing issues. Ashoka's vision is a world in which Everyone is a Changemaker—a society that responds quickly and effectively to challenges, and where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem. Twitter: @Ashoka

    C&A FOUNDATION is here to transform the fashion industry. We give our partners the financial support, expertise and networks so they can make the fashion industry work better for every person it touches. We do this because we believe that despite the vast and complex challenges we face, we can work together to make fashion a force for good. Twitter: @CandAFund