Asahi Kasei: Investing in Inclusive Growth

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Asahi Kasei: Investing in Inclusive Growth

Japan-based company joins the Business Call to Action with a commitment to build an inclusive textile value chain in India

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 8:35am

CONTENT: Press Release

New York/Tokyo, May 24, 2016 /3BL Media/ – Asahi Kasei, one of Japan’s leading manufactures of fiber products and chemicals, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA), committing to enhance the skills and productivity of 5,240 employees in the cupro fiber industry, and develop the capacity of 700 young people – especially women – to lead the industry in the future. With its focus on sustainable livelihoods for women and youth, Asahi Kasei is dedicated to building an inclusive cupro-fiber value chain in India by 2020.

The BCtA is a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts to fight poverty through its core business. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In India, over half of the population is engaged in small-to-medium scale farming, yet farmers have little opportunity to add value to their products in order to increase their incomes. Within Gujarat State, one of India’s most important textile-fiber growing regions, production of cotton for sale to textile manufacturers is constrained by adverse climate and limited productivity. Many manufactures who engage in textile production lack the resources to pursue advanced technologies. Despite its economic potential, the region suffers from limited growth.

Asahi Kasei supplies worldwide markets with its original cupro fabric – eco-friendly cellulose fiber derived from cotton “linter” (the tiny fibers that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after the cotton has been ginned). Because of its silky texture and ability to absorb moisture, cupro is ideal for weaving into women’s saris. And since cupro is made from a part of the cotton plant that was previously thrown away, Asahi Kasei’s fair-price purchases of cotton linter provide a welcome boost to local smallholders’ incomes. By 2020, 390,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the initiative.

Through its inclusive value chain model, the company’s purchases of cotton linter from smallholders are also enabling local cupro weaving and dyeing factories to create new jobs. To support factories in the cupro value chain, the company is bringing its expertise in modern de-linting, weaving and dyeing technologies by leasing advanced machineries to local factories for free and by sending its experts to those factories to train factory employees in their use. Asahi Kasei is also providing training and scholarships to university students, especially women, studying textiles and design – building India’s future textile industry workforce.

“With the mission of ‘contributing to life and living for people around the world’, Asahi Kasei is developing, manufacturing and selling unique products,” said Toshio Takanashi, Primary Executive Officer of Asahi Kasei. “As a result of 40-year of collaboration with local partners in India, we are proud our cupro fabric is now widely used for women’s saris. Through our initiative including technology transfers to India, Asahi Kasei is eager to create jobs, improve local people’s livelihoods and empower women. We are proud to be responsible to society, and by becoming a new member of the BCtA, we are determined to accelerate our initiative.”

Asahi Kasei began exporting its cupro fiber to India in 1976, and focused on developing a local value chain, from raw materials to end products. By the end of 2015, Asahi Kasei had partnered with 60 weaving and 3 dyeing factories, and achieved sales of 4,300 tons of cupro fiber. By 2020 it aims to sell 6,000 tons of cupro to 80 weaving and 10 dyeing factories.

The company plans to provide an additional US$40,000 to support the education of 700 young people (75 percent of them women) between 2016 and 2020, and increase the production efficiency of 97 small- and medium-scale de-linting, weaving and dyeing manufacturers. Since Indian women are the main consumers of cupro fabric, Asahi Kasei expects continued growth in this rapidly developing market: by 2020, it estimates that 15 million Indian women will be wearing saris made of cupro.

“Asahi Kasei’s inclusive business model clearly demonstrates the benefits of inclusive business all along the value chain,” said Paula Pelaez, BCtA’s Programme Manager. “Supporting local farmers, strengthening manufacturing capacities and providing high-quality locally manufactured products at affordable prices provide a foundation for sustainability and steady growth in this lucrative market. We are pleased to welcome Asahi Kasei as a BCtA member and look forward to working with them in the years to come.”

For more information:

Business Call to Action:
Tatiana Bessarabova

Asahi Kasei:
Masao Nakamura

Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)UK Department for International DevelopmentUS Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Asahi Kasei Corporation: Asahi Kasei is one of the leading manufactures of fiber products, chemicals and electronic materials in Japan. In fiscal year 2015, the company’s consolidated annual sales reached US$17.2 billion, including US$1.2 billion in fiber products alone. Asahi Kasei supplies markets worldwide with original technologies and unique fiber materials, developed through the company’s 90 years of experience in manufacturing of original yarn, spun fiber and fabric.