There are many millions of people whose lives are a constant struggle to provide for themselves and their families. Today, Inter IKEA Group announced that it's expanded its support for social entrepreneurs, who look to solve deep-rooted social issues, with a partnership with Ashoka. It now is proud to add Acumen as a partner, which will look to support social entrepeneurs in East Africa.
By backing and working with social entrepreneurs, whose business idea is based on making societies and people thrive, IKEA contributes to creating jobs and better everyday lives around the world.
What is a social entrepreneur?
Social entrepreneurs are often pioneers and pathfinders whose business idea is to create jobs and better opportunities for marginalised groups and vulnerable communities – tackling the root causes of poverty and inequality in the process. Whether non-profit or not, social enterprises are only truly successful when people and societies thrive. They focus their work on the local communities, but their efforts have the power to create ripples that change the way social issues are addressed globally.
IKEA and social entrepreneurs
Working with social entrepreneurs isn’t new to us. To date there are 27 local and global partnerships with social entrepreneurs across IKEA who have co-create home furnishing products and services available in more than 250 stores across 30 countries, and online. This includes a new partnerships with coffee producers in Uganda and artisans making embroidered cushions from India, sold in IKEA stores globally.
These partnerships have supported the creation of over 15000 jobs for vulnerable people, providing them with meaningful work so they can lift themselves out of poverty, plan for their future and start their journey towards self-reliance.
To date these collaborations have been part of the IKEA business. We now want to reach further and make an even bigger positive impact and are expanding the scope of how we work with social entrepreneurs both inside and outside of the IKEA value chain. By supporting the social entrepreneurs’ current business ideas as well as their expansion, we increase their ability to achieve social change.
Sharing networks and knowledge
Although innovation is in most social entrepreneurs’ DNA, they still face a number of common challenges. Limited access to finance, business networks and supply chains are just some examples – which is where IKEA come into the equation. By sharing our networks and our business knowledge, we back new social entrepreneurs and make it possible for established ones to grow – and we give them a better chance to create sustainable solutions. We’re on a constant lookout to make connections that are as great as possible for each partner.
Innovation and transparency
We invest in programs for acceleration, partner with successful social entrepreneurs that are ready to scale up, and we source and select new and leading innovative businesses. The key to success is openness, towards the social enterprises and towards the world around us. By being transparent and sharing our learnings, we want to provide the tools for other companies and organisations to build on our practice.
For IKEA co-workers, challenging ourselves and our established ways of working is an important driving force. Teaming up with social enterprises gives us the chance not only to contribute to equality, inclusion, and decent livelihoods, but gives us the opportunity to learn lots about how to become a more circular and sustainable business as well as becoming more entrepreneurial.