Women, most of them in hijab, sit by sewing machines placed on desks standing in rows across a room.

Marhaba Stege partners up with IKEA

IKEA is always interested in collaborating. Now we can add one more important collaboration to the list, with the social enterprise Marhaba Stege in Jakobsberg, Sweden.

Marhaba Stege is an organisation that tackles social problems through business. It will now be providing made-to-measure cushion covers for the IKEA Barkaby store located 20km north-west of Stockholm.

“I had heard about the Yalla Trappan project in Malmö where they began a cooperation with entrepreneurs and provide the Malmö store with a sewing service,” says Andreas Hovare, manager of sustainability at IKEA Barkaby. “I thought it would be great to do something similar here in Barkaby.”

 Yalla Trappan, like Marhaba Stege, has been providing work for immigrant women who would otherwise have severe difficulties entering the labour market.

Marhaba Stege is located one kilometre from the IKEA Barkaby store. Although close by, Andreas says it’s been a long process to establish the collaboration. The organisation fulfils all criteria of the IKEA working conditions checklist, IWAY, and as of March 2016, the project is live.


Customers can choose from an IKEA meter fabric and order made-to-measure cushion covers. IKEA staff consult with customers about the details of their order. Every Monday orders are collected by Serife Yilmaz, the supervisor at Marhaba Stege and delivered back to the warehouse within two weeks. Each order costs around ten euros.

The next step is to introduce a made-to-measure service for curtains. “This is totally new, they don’t have that service in Malmö,” says Andreas Hovare.

Marhaba Stege is a non-profit organisation, the fee paid for all IKEA products goes towards wages and material for the workshop. Currently, twenty women are employed in the project.

An article published in a local newspaper about the collaboration with IKEA has already created more interest in Marhaba Stege. Andreas Hovare believes that this is an excellent blueprint for local collaborations; an opportunity to create jobs by offering a service appreciated by IKEA customers. Other IKEA stores in the region have already shown interest in being part of the project.

  1. Other sustainability projects at the IKEA Barkaby store are: Growth with impact – a year-long project focusing on minimising food waste and På lika villkor (On equal terms) – a project in partnership with Rädda Barnen (Save the Children). How can IKEA contribute to activities for young people in the surrounding neighbourhood of Husby? IKEA has helped to establish a space where young people gather both to study and hang out. The next step will be helping them into employment.