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Kicking off our Poland and Romania accelerator

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship is pleased to welcome ten pioneering social entrepreneurs to our Poland and Romania accelerator, co-created with our partner NESsT and IKEA in the region.

In this three-year programme we, along with local IKEA co-workers, support Polish and Romanian social entrepreneurs to grow their business and impact, expanding local employment opportunities and finding solutions to social and environmental challenges.

Front runners

Both countries have reduced poverty in the last two decades, but the job is far from done. Two million people still live in extreme poverty in Poland, from a population of 38 million, while in Romania one in five people are at risk of poverty.

At the same time, new economic opportunities are being created in the steadily growing social and environmental sustainability sectors. The social entrepreneurs we support are front runners of this people and planet positive movement in their countries. They create better everyday lives for marginalised populations including women, migrants, small producers and artisans, youth at risk, migrants and refugees, and people with disabilities.

Inclusive futures

Partnering with IKEA Social Entrepreneurship in this new programme is an exciting opportunity to support social enterprises in the region where NESsT was born 25 years ago shares Nicole Etchart, NESsT co-CEO.

The accelerator was launched during a welcome summit (February 1-2), where the ten social entrepreneurs had the opportunity to get to know each other and the support teams at NESsT and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship. They also met local IKEA co-workers, who play a key role in the accelerator. Alongside NESsT business experts, co-workers from IKEA Poland and Romania will share their business knowledge and insights as mentors for the social entrepreneurs. Åsa Skogström Feldt, managing director, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship B.V. on the new accelerator:

We are very happy to welcome the cohort of social entrepreneurs to our accelerator together with NESsT. This programme will contribute to a more inclusive future for people who need it the most in Poland and Romania.

Pora content
Social enterprise Pora na Pola is an online marketplace that sells sustainable food products sourced from local small and medium-sized suppliers in rural Poland.
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Connecting consumers and producers

Supported social entrepreneurs create opportunities in sectors ranging from artisanal farming to waste recycling, to sustainable fashion, among many others.

Rumanian enterprise Atelier Merci, for example, offers handcrafted clothing made from vegan and organic materials. That way, it opens up new markets for marginalised Romanian craftspeople who are supported to upscale their sustainable production processes. In Poland, the Kobiety Wedrowne Foundation hosts a bistro shop with a vegan and vegetarian quality menu. It offers kitchen and catering jobs for refugees and migrants, as well as a safe place to meet and a store to sell their own products.

Several enterprises in our programme connect small-scale producers in the countryside with organic food lovers in Polish and Romanian cities. One of them is Helyenvalo (Rumania), providing eco-friendly farmers with new channels to sell their fresh products. Customers are invited to tastings, tea sessions and farm visits, where they personally meet the producers of their sustainable foods.

AtelierMerci - Romania 6

Social enterprise Atelier Merci is committed to circular economy practices, using textile scraps from clothing to create decorative house products and bags and offering recycling services to its clients for their used clothes.

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Jobs to reduce poverty

Over the course of the accelerator, the social entrepreneurs will receive business advice, market access support and technical assistance. They’ll also get flexible financing to upskill their local workforce and enhance their impact-first business strategies. Filip Wadowski, NESsT Poland Director says:

The selected entrepreneurs offer long-term solutions to poverty alleviation, supporting marginalised populations to sustain their livelihoods and access income security and career growth. We are very inspired by their missions, and through the accelerator programme, we seek to fill the resource and capital gaps for these enterprises to help them to multiply their impact and to scale resiliently.

Our goal with this accelerator is to ensure the employment of 1,200 vulnerable communities in the region. IKEA is committed to sustainability and bringing a positive impact on people and the planet. Curious to meet Atelier Merci and the rest of the social entrepreneurs working for an inclusive and sustainable future?

Read about the ten social entrepreneurs in the Poland and Romania accelerator here