Aldi is supporting a new project to help women become leaders in the Ethiopian flowers sector and their local communities.

The commitment will see the chain invest £200,000 over the next four yearsin the Fairtrade Programme “Empowering Women in the Ethiopian Flower Sector”.

The project supports education programmes aimed at enabling women to become leaders at work and in their communities through mentorship, upskilling and information sharing, as well as behaviour change initiatives. It also plans exchange visits to share the learnings with even more farms.

Aldi is one of the largest retailers of Fairtrade flowers in the UK, with sales of £8m last year, and is also the second-biggest retailer of cut flowers overall.

More than 75 per cent of Aldi’s Fairtrade flowers are sourced from Ethiopia, where more than three quarters of people working in the flower-growing industry are women.

Fritz Walleczek, managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “It’s essential to support the countries around the world where our products are produced in order to address equality challenges and create fair and supportive working environments.

“We are focused on maintaining high standards throughout our supply chain and are partnering with Fairtrade to both empower and protect women, and to give them the tools and support they need to take on leadership roles on farms in their communities.”

Euan Venters, commercial director at The Fairtrade Foundation, added: “We’re delighted that Aldi UK, one of the UK’s largest retailers of Fairtrade flowers, is going further to promote sustainability in its supply chain by announcing its support for this exciting new programme. Fairtrade exists to get workers a better deal and through intensive training this programme will build on the improvements already made through the Fairtrade Standards and give women more opportunities to progress.”