H&M has partnered with UNICEF on programmes supporting children’s rights since 2004. Since 2014 UNICEF also partners with the H&M Conscious Foundation, a non-profit global foundation initiated by H&M complementing H&M’s sustainability work
The mission of the H&M Conscious Foundation is to contribute to positive long-term change for people and communities, where H&M operates. The H&M Conscious Foundation is engaged in three focus areas; Education, Clean Water and Strengthening Women. The Foundation is funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and the main owners of H&M.
The partnership with UNICEF within the focus area education. Since 2014, the H&M Conscious Foundation supports UNICEF with SEK60 million (about US$9 million) over a three-year period. This grant enables UNICEF to provide the most vulnerable and excluded children with the best possible start in life.
Education and early childhood development – Giving children best possible start in life
Learning begins in early childhood. The first few years of children’s lives lay the foundation for their ability to succeed in life. Physical health as well as social and learning abilities are set. Development of the brain is rapid during the first eight years, and when properly nurtured, can unleash great potential in each and every child. It is a period of great opportunity, but also one of great vulnerability for children. Data indicates that more than 200 million children under the age of 5 are failing to attain their full potential because of poverty, poor health, a lack of adequate nutrition and care, and limited opportunities to learn. This can affect a child’s potential for the remainder of its life.
Children, who receive early childhood care and education, are more likely to learn, stay in school and graduate from school. This in turn leads to greater social and economic potential later in life, which has huge effects on society and on economic and social development. By giving them a chance to thrive, not just survive, children could also contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty. Still, not many donors or governments realize the potential of Early Childhood Development and Education. And even fewer prioritize funding it.
This is why the H&M Conscious Foundation wants to contribute to filling that gap. Increasing access to quality early childhood development programmes is a smart investment not just for the individual child, but for the society as a whole.
According to Pia Britto, Senior Adviser on Early Childhood Development at UNICEF: “The H&M Conscious Foundation, Champion for Early Childhood Development, is truly committed to supporting programmes and policies to build a better future for children and make sure that they not only survive their early years, but thrive in them.”
The programme supported by the H&M Conscious Foundation is a global effort that includes three key focus areas:
• More than 73,600 children will benefit from early childhood development programmes supported through this partnership.
• Three National Development Agendas have included Early Childhood Development, and are supported by national budgetary resources.
• The first-ever Global Report on Early Childhood Development highlighting key early development indicators will be released and help shift global perceptions of the importance of early childhood development.
Supporting vulnerable children in Bangladesh
In 2012, H&M made its largest donation to community investment of US$8 million for a programme in Bangladesh that aims to protect children’s rights by providing access to education. This donation is now managed by the H&M Conscious Foundation. The programme targets 40,000 children between 3 and 14 years old with the objective to improve access to quality early learning, pre-primary and basic primary education, basic life skills and social protection services.
The launch of the Unicoin: A new currency dedicated to doing good
On June 11th 2015, the H&M Conscious Foundation, in support of UNICEF, presented a new currency to the world – the Unicoin. The initiative aims to enable children to support the right for children around the world to access learning opportunities from an early age. The only way to get a hold of a Unicoin is to exchange a drawing together with a child at unicoins.org. And the only way to spend it is on educational supplies.
With this new innovative activity, the H&M Conscious Foundation supports UNICEF in raising public awareness about the importance of early childhood development and at the same time provide an opportunity for people to contribute.
To view the Unicoin site click here
To view a short film on this campaign click here
About the partnership with H&M
H&M is committed to protecting children’s rights and has partnered with UNICEF on programmes supporting children since 2004. The aim is to use H&M’s scale to bring about systemic change to the industry and across the value chain.
H&M has contributed over US$ 19 million, with funds being invested in areas such as girls’ education, HIV/AIDS prevention, water and sanitation, and child protection in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Madagascar, and Uzbekistan. H&M has also contributed to UNICEF’s disaster relief work on several occasions, such as for the tsunami emergency, the floods in Pakistan, the Haiti earthquake, the drought in the Horn of Africa, and for the ongoing Syria emergency.
In 2009, H&M made a donation of US$ 4.5 million to support a five-year programme in India that aims to improve access to quality education and healthcare services, and ensure that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 are in school. More than 1.7 million children have been reached in southern India through this programme supported by H&M.
Since 2012, H&M, alongside other Swedish business leaders, has been involved in a pilot initiative led by UNICEF that aims to help companies understand and assess their impact on children’s rights. This initiative follows the official release in 2012 by UNICEF, the Global Compact and Save the Children of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, the first comprehensive set of global standards for child-friendly business practices setting out the actions that companies should incorporate to respect and support children’s rights.
H&M has carried out several fundraising activities over the years. Only last year, three activities benefited UNICEF. An exclusive baby collection was launched and sold online, and 10 per cent of the purchase price was donated to UNICEF’s vaccination programme. Twenty-five per cent of the purchase price of the All For Children Collection, sold in all H&M markets, was invested in an early childhood development and education programme in Ethiopia. A jubilee book was released, and part of the income was donated to UNICEF’s work against child marriage in India.
Facts about H&M
Founded in Sweden in 1947, H&M is today one of the world’s leading fashion companies. The entire H&M group has around 3,600 stores in 59 markets, including franchise markets. In 2014, sales including VAT were SEK 151,419 million and the number of employees is more than 132,000.