A lone sea ranger wearing a life vest on deck of a sailing ship at dawn.

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.

The IKEA Social Entrepreneurship Dela (meaning to share) Accelerator Programme - developed in partnership with Ashoka, an organisation that has backed social entrepreneurs for over 40 years - is designed to support social entrepreneurs working with big challenges, like inequalities and climate change, in scaling their impact. Wietse van der Werf, founder of the Sea Ranger Service, has seen a significant difference in his social enterprise since participating in the programme.

Social entrepreneurs like Wietse often face challenges in expanding their work, having limited access to finance, business development and networks. 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.

Through the Dela Accelerator Programme, a number of social entrepreneurs from Ashoka’s network are supported by specialists from different parts of the IKEA business, as part of an advisory team.

A veteran sea ranger instructing a group of attentive trainees at boot camp.

A dignified purpose for veterans and youths

Wietse founded and manages the Sea Ranger Service, the world’s first maritime ranger service. As a social enterprise, it builds custom-made sailing work ships and uses navy veterans to train unemployed youths during an intensive boot camp. Those who complete the boot camp move on to become Sea Rangers.

The Sea Rangers are then selected to join a ship, and after extensive maritime training, are deployed to assist nations in managing Marine Protected Areas, the marine research and conversation of historic shipwrecks as cultural heritage sites.

Wietse van der Werf explains the collaboration between IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and the Sea Ranger Service.

Guidance with impact

Wietse sought guidance on how best to scale his work in order to have a bigger impact and provide job opportunities to even more people. By participating in the Dela programme, he received advice from IKEA co-workers and other experts in a series of sessions to challenge and stress-test his strategy to scale the work of Sea Rangers in an effective manner. As a result, Wietse is establishing a new method to scale his work using a franchise model that can be replicated around the globe and which has taken direct influence from the IKEA model of working.

We can learn from people in business to make a really profound difference on accelerating the process of restoring our planet.

Wietse van der Werf, Founder, Sea Ranger Service

Learning from each other

The programme not only benefits social entrepreneurs, but also gives IKEA co-workers a chance to learn and be inspired. Social entrepreneurs help us create a better everyday life for people and teach us how to be a more inclusive and sustainable business.

Supporting social entrepreneurs with their expansion plans not only allows them to have a bigger impact, it’s also an opportunity for us to gain knowledge from them.

Åsa Skogström Feldt, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship
Social enterprises have an opportunity to work with, educate and inspire the private sector and help facilitate a bigger social impact alongside business success. Find out more at ikeasocialentrepreneurship.org.

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