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IKEA Social Entrepreneurship upscales social business collaborations

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship expands its partnership with three social businesses in South and South-East Asia in order to create job opportunities for marginalised groups like persons with disabilities and women in vulnerable communities.

IKEA is always looking for ways to grow even more inclusive and contribute to a more fair and equal society. By partnering with large-scale social businesses Saitex, Classical Handmade Products and Spun we hope to create life-changing opportunities for marginalised groups in Vietnam, India, and Bangladesh.

Upscaling social business collaborations

Since 2012, IKEA has been partnering with social businesses co-creating products that honour unique skills and create decent work for people who need it most. A new part of our strategy within IKEA Social Entrepreneurship is partnering with large-scale scalable social businesses in order to make a bigger social impact. These types of collaborations will allow partners to manage large production volumes and thereby providing many more people with limited access to the job market the opportunity to work.

Adding Saitex, Classical Handmade Products and Spun as suppliers to IKEA’s range, will diversify the range in materials and techniques and allow for faster upscaling with both single products and collections. The partnership consists of co-creating a range of products made from sustainable materials like natural fibres and waste materials which will be sold at IKEA, in the process creating jobs for marginalised groups. Let’s take a closer look at these social businesses:

Saitex, Vietnam

Vietnamese denim manufacturer, Saitex, is known worldwide for being revolutionary in its holistic approach to business. The social business has a highly efficient industrialised factory setup - showing that social businesses don’t have to be small or in the handicraft sector. They integrate both environmental and social sustainability, transforming their business from linear to circular. By 2025, Saitex aims to have 20% of their workforce be persons with disabilities and involved in production for IKEA. Saitex operates four modern facilities in Dong Nai, plus a new textile mill for cotton manufacturing. A facility in Los Angeles, USA is currently under development. Sanjeev Bahl, founder and CEO of Saitex on working with IKEA:

In Vietnam, people with different abilities are hidden and not heard. Our society still has no solution to the employment and inclusion of the differently-abled people that make up 15% of the world’s population. IKEA is huge, but it’s a humane and value-driven, organisation. If this collaboration succeeds, then we have created a future formula for success that potentially could be replicated in other factories. Imagine what a huge, massive dent we together would create on this matter.

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Saitex aims to have 20% of their workforce be persons with disabilities and involved in production for IKEA. 
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Classical Handmade Products, Bangladesh

Classical Handmade Products creates sustainable, hand woven and machine woven home furnishing products, such as storage baskets, bags, pouffes and rugs. The social business uses natural fibre materials such as jute, seagrass and water hyacinth for their production as well as recycled textile waste or cotton from better sources.

They have four factories across rural areas north of Bangladesh, offering job opportunities where work is rare, to women in rural villages and people with disabilities. This provides employees access to work while being able to stay with their families, balancing the problems that come with urbanisation.

I used to my work as a designer and buyer in northern Bangladesh, and when I visited other factories, I experienced working conditions that were disgraceful. Especially women were treated very poorly. By starting my own company, I had the opportunity to give them a salary and other benefits that greatly improved their lives and inspire other businesses to do the same.

Tauhid Bin Abdus Salam, CEO Classical Handmade Products.

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Classical Handmade Products providing job opportunities in Bangladesh where work is rare, to women in rural villages and people with disabilities. 

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Spun, India

Spun produces skillfully crafted, one-of-a-kind products from textile waste and cotton from better sources. The social business was founded by Welspun Textile Group in India, one of the world’s leading home textiles manufacturers. Spun empowers women by producing skillfully crafted, sustainably produced textile products and offers educational programs, environmental and health initiatives, bringing growth to entire communities. Their work has made a big impact already, most of all for 300 employees, 220 of which will work with the production for IKEA. Dipali Goenka, CEO at Welspun, on the hopes for the collaboration with IKEA:

Education and women’s empowerment is one of the biggest challenges here in India. As a female leader myself, I have an obligation to support this movement, and that is my dream for this collaboration: that more and more Indian women reach independence.

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Spun empowers women by producing skillfully crafted, sustainably produced textile products.
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Creating the business of the future

IKEA has the opportunity and resources to make a significant and lasting impact, today and for future generations. Since 2019, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship has supported social enterprises worldwide through accelerator programs. Our future endeavours will focus on expanding ways of supporting social enterprises to upscale their impact and finding new possibilities to create lasting change.

By partnering with Saitex, Classical Handmade Products and Spun, IKEA will be offering an even more sustainable industrial setup in textiles, jute and other locally sourced materials to the many people in stores around the world. The first collections produced by the suppliers will be released in June 2022. 

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