One in three of the social entrepreneurs IKEA Social Entrepreneurship supports are active in food and agriculture. Many of them are women who lead enterprises that create better jobs and improve daily lives for women in rural communities. They welcome the accelerator programmes co-created with our local partners and in some cases, their business partnerships with IKEA, as powerful ways to strengthen their strategies for positive change.
During the accelerators, the entrepreneurs receive mentoring, coaching and masterclasses. IKEA co-workers from across the globe share their knowledge and experience to support them while they grow their business and impact.
Few opportunities to grow
Land ownership is another challenge women face in many parts of the world. Vava Angwenyi, founder and CEO of Vava Coffee in Kenya says:
In my country, eighty percent of the agricultural work is done by women. They tend the coffee trees, produce the beans and nurture the farms, but they don’t own the land. And since they don’t have their own bank accounts either, men keep controlling the money that comes in.
Be more innovative farmers
We ensure that the women farmers can sell their coffee to us for the next five to ten years and we pay them better prices. We also give them training and support to increase their knowledge so they can be more innovative and modern farmers.
The meetings with the IKEA coaches enabled us to come up with smart new ideas to market Kenyan quality coffee in a way that respects local communities.
Collaboration over competition
My co-founder Kuki Njeru and I had this big vision about creating a new forest in a sustainable way that is unique in Kenya. Since we started, our business kept growing and growing. But it’s not an easy journey. As an entrepreneur, you sacrifice so much and many times the returns come much later. As women, we’re resilient and patient enough to go through the phases of scaling a business even when things don’t always go smoothly.
Caroline Kariuki, co-founder and CEO of Green Pot Enterprises
Weaving mothersCaroline appreciates the support from IKEA coaches she received during the East Africa accelerator:
They gave us priceless insights in how to deliver better value to clients and measure our impact. As a company working with sustainability and climate change, we are in a good place to make a difference for our communities and our women. Now we know how to make even more people around our business thrive.
With Du Anyam we leverage the existing skills and the resources in the community, ensuring that these women have a sustainable income they can use to buy nutritious food, education and health care.Having a year-round income provides them with the stability that they lacked with their seasonal income from subsistence agriculture.
Investing in a better quality of life
Weaving was a skill that was dying out because it didn’t carry any economic value. This has now changed, and many young women are excited to join our weaving training in order to learn themselves. Today, Du Anyam creates work for 1,400 women. The collaboration with IKEA Social Entrepreneurship will enable us to grow even further. We are very excited about this opportunity to provide a better quality of life for our weavers and their families.
Building networks for changeOne of the invisible but important assets men traditionally have as business owners is access to professional networks. These connections open doors to funding, decision-makers and new business partners, and are key to growing their companies.
The women leaders featured in our story agree that meeting like-minded people is also a number one advantage of being part of the IKEA Social Entrepreneurship community. Adriana Luna, CEO of Tierra de Monte says:
There is a lot of value in teaming up with fellow entrepreneurs who are passionate about contributing to sustainability and wellbeing.
This Mexican biotech company creates eco-friendly solutions to increase crop productivity while promoting sustainable agriculture among smallholder farmers. Her social enterprise recently joined the Mexico Accelerator programme co-created with New Ventures.
It’s still difficult for women to access the market with innovative sustainable solutions, where most farmers and distributors are men. Working conditions are not women-friendly. But we are now creating a community as women entrepreneurs, distributors, farmers, researchers. Together we are finding ways to address these challenges.
Continuing our work with womenAt IKEA Social Entrepreneurship we are proud to stand by these and all the other women entrepreneurs that work hard to build a healthy planet with happy people. Åsa Skogström Feldt, managing director at IKEA Social Entrepreneurship BV says:
We are committed to being inclusive, so of course, the empowerment of women entrepreneurs is a priority. As social entrepreneurs, they tend to move women from producing just enough to put food on the table to becoming companies that add value and make investments to grow.
Women-owned and co-owned enterprises go beyond providing jobs and income. They give women a voice and enable them to get access to the places where decisions are made.
NOTE: Hero image presents the Du Anyam weaving women on the island of Flores, Indonesia.