IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Acumen Academy to award $50,000 to social entrepreneurs in East Africa
As the East Africa Accelerator concludes, two of the participating entrepreneurs will each receive $25,000 to help scale their enterprises. Alongside this, several other participating social entrepreneurs received business continuity funding for their work serving vulnerable communities in East Africa.
The goal of the Accelerator was to strengthen the capacity of participating social enterprises in East Africa in order to improve the lives of vulnerable communities. Green Face Trading works with unemployed youth to counter deforestation by providing alternative means of income through organic honey production. UZURI K&Y employs women and youth to produce footwear out of recycled rubber tires. Judges evaluated the entrepreneurs based on their customer understanding, financial sustainability, scalability and potential for social impact. The 19-week long accelerator program began during COVID-19 in April 2020 and graduated 19 teams of social entrepreneurs from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Meshesha said Green Face Trading plans to use the seed funding to expand their supply chain to reach 2,000 rural youth in nearby villages.
I am from a rural area, so I know the pain of rural unemployment. We are currently working in three villages, but rural youth in other villages are asking to join our sustainable supply chain as well. This money will allow us to reach more rural youth than we have been able to in the past.
Each participating social entrepreneur was supported by dedicated IKEA co-workers, Ivy Qian, Jony’s coach added “I’m super proud of Jony and Green Face Trading! I am very inspired by his business acumen and great passion of bringing unemployed youth a sustainable income with a remarkable business model. The coaching journey itself is a mutual learning for me as well, I learnt from Jony how overcome obstacles in tough environment.”
Åsa Skogström Feldt, head of IKEA Social Entrepreneurship added “Our commitment to social entrepreneurs is based in our belief that the world’s biggest challenges need diverse, local problem solvers, and this is what led us to partner with Acumen to support social enterprises in East Africa. Through our co-worker engagement we have been able to bring IKEA’s capabilities and resources to help scale social enterprises across the region, which is especially important during the challenges of COVID-19.”