A Favela in Brazil, with densely built house facades on a slope.

Changing lives together with social entrepreneurs

We want to create a better everyday life for as many people as possible – including the millions who are vulnerable and marginalised. Improving lives means enabling a more inclusive society, where people have the opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. IKEA Social Entrepreneurship is one way of making this a reality. 

We have worked with social entrepreneurs from around the world to produce organic coffee and design handmade collections such as ANNANSTANS and HANTVERK. These collaborations contributed to 20,000 jobs and incomes. The positive impact of these partnerships had made us want to do more, so we expanded our support to social entrepreneurs who don’t directly produce products or services for the IKEA business.

Scaling change

Social entrepreneurs often face challenges in expanding their business, having limited access to finance, business development and networks, along with access to supply chains. This is where IKEA Social Entrepreneurship comes into the equation.

By sharing our networks and business knowledge, we back new social entrepreneurs and support established ones to grow. The result is not necessarily a product or service. Instead, it’s about increasing the potential to create lasting social change.

Supporting social entrepreneurs with their expansion plans not only allows them to have a bigger impact, it also gives us the opportunity to learn from them.

Åsa Skogström Feldt, Manager, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V. 

Collaboration with Ashoka

Our first partnership under this expanded support is a global accelerator programme with Ashoka, an organisation that has backed social entrepreneurs for almost 40 years.

Twelve social entrepreneurs from Ashoka’s network are supported by specialists from different parts of the IKEA business, as part of an advisory team. The scope of their work ranges from supporting workers in Bangladesh with workplace-based daycare centers, to helping small-scale farmers in West Africa with accurate weather forecasts. The advisors and their teams support them in scaling-up their businesses and creating a bigger impact.

Fernando Assad, social entrepreneur and founder of Programa Vivenda.
Fernando Assad, social entrepreneur and founder of Programa Vivenda

Improving families’ living conditions in Brazil

One of the social entrepreneurs is Fernando Assad from Brazil. Through his organisation Programa Vivenda, he provides affordable and easy-to-install home improvement kits to mitigate the unsafe housing situation in Brazil’s favelas. There are about 40 million people in Brazil living in 11 million inadequate houses which pose health risks.

He identified the challenge as a web of complicated and inefficient systems, making it more difficult for low-income families to find information and financial planning advice to allow them to renovate their homes. Vivenda creates incentives for actors in the construction supply chain to provide safer housing for the millions living in unsafe homes.

Fernando Assad, social entrepreneur and founder of Programa Vivenda and two men in a classroom.

A home isn’t just a home. When people are safe, healthy and happy in their houses, it enables them to be more in control of their own futures.

Fernando Assad, social entrepreneur and founder of Programa Vivenda

An online hub that empowers

Through our programme, Fernando has identified a potential solution: to create an online hub/network where families can easily be connected to resources, credit, technical assistance, labour and construction materials, making it simpler for them to start the process of renovating their homes.

Fernando, along with the other participants, will be given further advice and then spend six months testing their ideas. With a new group of advisors, they will decide on how best to put their strategies into action.

Change from within

“A home isn’t just a home. When people are safe, healthy and happy in their houses, it enables them to be more in control of their own futures,” says Fernando. And we agree. A dignified home leads to dignified people – people who have the power to believe in themselves and help others too.

Other stories you might be interested in