Pathway from the accelerator programme to partnership
The three social enterprises, Básicos de Mexico, Abeja Reyna and Smartfish, all participated in the second edition of the IKEA Social Entrepreneurship Mexico Accelerator Programme (MAP) created and delivered in partnership with New Ventures, with support from IKEA Mexico. In 2021 and 2022, the enterprises’ co-founders received capacity-building guidance New Ventures as well as structured mentorship from IKEA co-workers.
The MAP aims to strengthen social enterprises and increase their social and environmental impact; creating livelihood opportunities and delivering affordable goods and services in vulnerable and marginalised communities. Thirty enterprises have participated to date, and while many operate in industries unrelated to the IKEA value chain, late last year, when IKEA Mexico joined IKEA Social Entrepreneurship Programme Coordinator, Tirza Voss, to meet the social enterprises, they saw opportunities to collaborate.
The challenges for social enterprises doing business with long-established and large corporates include logistic, regulatory and economic differences. But the IKEA Mexico retail, product development and purchasing and logistics teams worked together with the social enterprises to find bridging solutions and bring their products to IKEA customers.
“As a recipient of our innovation grant, it’s exciting to see Smartfish selling sustainably sourced food products at IKEA Mexico. And having tried Abeja Reyna honey at their Mexico City store, I’m happy that IKEA customers too can now take home these tasty local honeys. While at the Latin America Impact Investing Forum (FLII) earlier this year, I also reconnected with Básicos co-founders Valerie and Daniele whose creativity and drive to impact the textile industry positively has been central to this partnership” says Tirza Voss, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship Programme Coordinator.
Local knowledge, local suppliers
Daniela Gremión and Valerie Benatar’s sustainable fashion brand, Básicos de México, works with fair trade principles, supporting small, local, family-owned maquilas (workshops) to ensure good conditions and fair pay. Their design process incorporates overrun cloth (like remnants from previous production) into new products. For IKEA Mexico, they’ve designed aprons, napkins, tablecloths and tortilleros (tortilla warmers) adding to the localised offer at two IKEA stores.
It’s important that we respect workers’ autonomy and wellbeing; promote the recycling and reuse of textiles, and raise customer awareness about the importance of responsible consumption.
Together with IKEA Mexico Sales Leader, Karla Delpino, Básicos designed and developed 30 items in different textiles and colours for which increased production and revenue projections have allowed expansion and investment.
“This is the first time that we’ve collaborated with local Mexican suppliers. These social entrepreneurs have demonstrated their ability to address systemic problems and generate innovative solutions, adding value to their environment and promoting economic development. For IKEA Mexico it represents an opportunity to market products that are driving positive change,” says Jaap Doornbos, IKEA Mexico Retail Director. “If we really want to build a sustainable, resilient, circular, equitable and inclusive Mexico, it’s essential to work together.”
Local products, local flavour
Working with small fisher communities, Smartfish works to reduce the number of intermediaries in the value chain. Retaining more value within the fishing cooperatives allows for a focus on improved incomes and training opportunities, and generates new jobs. Smartfish also secures cleaning and processing improvements and trace products to ensure they’re fresh and sustainably sourced. The four products to be featured in the food market are smoked fish, fish dip, fermented sour cabbage and fish fillets.
Abeja Reyna works with bee farmers producing honey for beauty, healthcare and food products. The Guadalajara-based business collaborates with 105 beekeepers who collectively preserve 90 million bees and produce 300 tons of honey a year. Employing a fair trade supply chain, and with an emphasis on environmental protections for the land fields and flowers integral to bees’ survival, Abeja Reyna is well recognised for its positive impact. Two of their products: honey butter, and honey butter with blueberries, go on sale today.
We’ve been able to create an ethical, humane and fair company, which is a great challenge, and also meet the challenge of making it profitable and competitive.
And at IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, we’re motivated by the change-making potential of collaboration between established businesses and social enterprises, and hope to play a role advancing social entrepreneurship and sharing learnings so that IKEA and other corporates become more inclusive and sustainable businesses.