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Extending our partnership with Ashoka to support social entrepreneurs and change-makers

During the 2022 Ashoka Changemaker Summit in Brussels, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship has announced their expanded support to social entrepreneurs by renewing their partnership with Ashoka to continue the global “Dela” program.

A partnership to tackle the root causes of inequality, poverty and climate change

In Swedish, “Dela” means to share. Both IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Ashoka share a similar mission of exchanging knowledge, perspectives and networks.

Over the past three years, Dela has supported 35 social entrepreneurs who are working to make a positive impact in the areas of inclusive employment, circular economy and renewable materials. The global program develops their impact-scaling strategies through systems change approach and offers them a space to test and scale their socially driven initiatives.  

"In a world with big challenges, collaboration and mutual learning is key," said Åsa Skogström Feldt, Managing Director of IKEA Social Entrepreneurship.

Leading social entrepreneur from Sweden, Liisa Smits, realized that the tropics are the areas that have been and will continue to be most affected by climate change. However, there weren’t any reliable weather forecasting models accessible to small farmers until she founded Ignitia. Today, Ignitia has ensured the continued provision of accurate and reliable weather forecast systems in the tropics thanks to the accelerator program she participated during 2020, followed by IKEA Social Entrepreneurship first-ever equity investment of SEK 8 million.

Torbjorn Lööf, who was the CEO of Inter IKEA Group when the first Dela programme was launched commented, "there is such a difference between sitting in a chair and struggling with executing ideas and meeting people with these amazing ideas and learning how they execute them. I was really impressed by the ambition of the social entrepreneurs."

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Liisa Smits, founder of Ignitia, who participated in the first Dela programme in 2019.
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Strengthening the social entrepreneurial ecosystem

We recently conducted an external evaluation of the Dela programme. During the programmes, each social entrepreneur uses an innovative approach to change the root causes of some of society’s most pressing issues whilst improving the systems that contribute to their existence in the first place. We are excited to note that during the first three editions of the Dela, over 140 IKEA co-workers and over another 170 external thought partners from across the world worked with the social entrepreneurs.

While these mentors and thought partners provide guidance and expert advice to the social entrepreneurs, they also gain insight into systems change and social innovation. This promotes a greater understanding of social entrepreneurship and innovative models and ways of leading that can feed into their everyday work and corporate sustainability goals.

"It has definitely been a life-changing process. Not only I have grown myself but I was able to support such a wonderful project. Currently, I am more aware of companies with strong and positive beliefs and also companies that contribute to society and the environment. What a beautiful and fulfilling experience!"  IKEA Implementation Partner

Additionally, about 70% of the participating social entrepreneurs said they have shifted their strategies as a result of the programme to become more systemic (including more collaborative and open) and 87% of all participants are likely to recommend Dela to their peers.

Allison Silva, Ashoka fellow and Dela Accelerator participant enjoyed the experience immensely, commenting, "the Dela Accelerator program was the best experience I have had. It was an intense, rapid and immersive growing process. This process let my social businesses reach the next stage of their growth, quickly and smartly. It provided mentors with advice, resources, and access to the Ashoka social entrepreneurs and the IKEA community. Now we know how to make social impact and create systemic change effectively."

IKEA Delft walking Dela summit participants
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Dela IV and V

We look forward to continuing our partnership with Ashoka for at least another two Dela programmes to support more social entrepreneurs on their systems change journey. Keep an eye out in February next year for the announcement of the launch of Dela VI and the social entrepreneurs in that programme.