Designed to create jobs

From beautiful, upcycled textiles, local food and sewing services, social entrepreneurs and social businesses provide us with products and services that enhance our offer while creating meaningful opportunities to those who need them most.

At the Ellas lo Bordan textile workshop in Madrid, single mothers who have arrived in Spain as migrants, often having been victims of violence, are learning to sew and earn a sustainable income. As well as working on a collection of cushion covers for sale in selected IKEA stores, they are also creating a better future for themselves and their families.

“The best way out of poverty and social exclusion is to have a job, but that isn’t always easy, particularly for women, who often face additional barriers,” says Mercedes Gutierrez, Global Communities Engagement Leader, Ingka Group. “Partnerships like this are a way for us to contribute to a more inclusive society. By working with organisations that use business techniques to tackle social problems, we can provide employment for vulnerable people in our local communities. They are creating more than income opportunities, but sustainable livelihoods that help people gain respect and independence.”

In FY18, 14 Ingka Group markets had partnerships with 58 social entrepreneurs and social businesses. Examples of initiatives include in-store sewing services, where IKEA customers can bring in their home textiles and clothes for mending, taking back products at the end of life for repair, reselling or recycling, and services for our store operations, like cleaning. These businesses meet our standards for working conditions and production quality, while creating a wider social impact.

We have been partnering with the Concordia Bakery in Romania since 2017. It offers vocational training to youth living in vulnerable situations to help them into the workforce. They bake local pastries for our customer and co-worker restaurants at the IKEA Baneasa store. So far, all those employed by Concordia Bakery, including those not working directly to supply our store, have found a job after completing the programme, and 80% go on to have a career in baking.

“Through initiatives like these we are making the local community around our stores a better place to live and work, while at the same time creating something a little different for our customers,” Mercedes says.

As our business grows and we work to meet changing customer needs, we believe working with social entrepreneurs will offer us new entrepreneurial skills and innovative solutions. This will help us transform our business and tackle the local communities’ challenges at the same time.