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What is IKEA Social Entrepreneurship? A Model for Ethical Business

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Image: What is IKEA Social Entrepreneurship?

IKEA, the Swedish home furnishings giant, is doing more than just selling affordable furniture – it’s helping to create jobs and fight poverty worldwide through IKEA social entrepreneurship program. 

Since 2012, IKEA has partnered with social businesses that empower marginalized communities, providing job opportunities and improved livelihoods to over 20,000 people.

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship is a business initiative that partners with social enterprises around the globe to co-create unique handcrafted products for IKEA’s customers

By combining local craft skills with IKEA’s expertise in design, product development, and logistics, the program generates employment for vulnerable groups like refugees, women, youth, and persons with disabilities. 

IKEA provides the platform, scaling up production to offer these social enterprise products in IKEA stores globally. The mutual benefits include an exciting ethical product range for IKEA, while social businesses can grow sustainably and maximize their social impact.  

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship: Creating Dignified Livelihoods

The core focus driving IKEA’s partnerships is creating dignified livelihoods and financial independence for marginalized communities. “More than 2 billion people struggle to provide for themselves and their families…

The IKEA Social Entrepreneurship initiative sees these people as valuable competencies,” notes the program. By 2025, they aim to create 95,000 sustainable jobs positively impacting 500,000 lives. 

“When big businesses show the way in creating a more fair and equal society, it creates a ripple effect inspiring others to follow,” says IKEA.

Empowering the Wider Movement

Beyond product collaborations, IKEA supports the broader social entrepreneurship movement through accelerator programs, grants, loans and mentorship. 

In FY20 alone, they enabled 36 social enterprises to scale, with 77 IKEA co-workers advising them, impacting 1.65 million lives. This two-way knowledge-sharing benefits both parties.

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship: Co-Creating Unique Ethical Products

A key aspect is the co-creation of distinctive handmade products by combining local artisanal skills with IKEA’s design expertise. 

This preserves traditional crafts while giving IKEA an exclusive ethical range to delight customers. 

The LOKALT collection, for instance, featured collaborations between local designers from India, Jordan, and Thailand, and the social enterprises’ artisans. 

“The cushions combine Scandinavian design and Indian roots,” noted IKEA designer Akanksha Deo.

Through IKEA social entrepreneurship model combining business and purpose, IKEA is demonstrating how corporations can be powerful catalysts for inclusion and equality worldwide. 

Business leaders would be wise to study this pioneering approach that marries commercialism with grassroots social impact at scale. 

As consumers increasingly embrace ethical brands, IKEA’s commitment to improving lives could be a masterclass for the future of responsible capitalism.


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