Coming together to create social impact
The Refugee Employment Initiative, led by NESsT, and supported by Cisco Foundation and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, welcomed ten enterprises from Poland and Romania in an online event to meet and learn more about each other’s business models and major challenges as they continue their social impact journey.
Dedicated to financing and supporting impact-driven enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe that can develop and grow long-term employment opportunities for refugees and migrants, has assessed the participating enterprises to identify areas where together, we can support capacity building and bridge funding gaps.
In March, we welcomed six enterprises to the initiative. Now, Olsztyn Food Bank, and from Poland, and Playful Software from Romania join the portfolio.
The ten enterprises, an advisory group of ten IKEA co-workers from Poland and Romania, and another ten thought partners from across IKEA in Europe attended day one of the online welcome summit, with and knowledge-sharing sessions.
"NESsT introduced us to a diverse portfolio of enterprises operating in sectors from IT to travel, laundry services to packaging. Whether a long-established social enterprise or foundation, or a small to medium-sized business accelerating their socially impactful mission, the participants share economic challenges and are aligned on social impact goals. We hope that the enterprises will not only benefit from direct programme support but also learn from each other."
-Tirza Voss, Coordinator, IKEA Social Entrepreneurship
Building on experience
The enterprises shared their expectations and ambitions for the coming few years, during which NESsT will guide their business development and social impact. As entrepreneurs driven to balance business performance with social impact, these leaders will look to understand further the barriers displaced people face and what support they need, learning how to mindfully grow their workforce in a sustainable way that also makes a meaningful change. How innovation and strategic partnerships can contribute will be a key focus as will the importance of maintaining quality through a period of growth.
As our partnership with enters its fifth year, and with two accelerator underway (in Poland and Romania, and in Latin America) providing support for 25 social enterprises, we’re well-positioned to bring this wealth of experience into our newest initiative.
On day one of the welcome summit, we were joined by Daniela Staicu, co-founder of Atelier Merci, a Romanian social enterprise participating in our accelerator programme. She shared her experience working with her mentor Jarek Kowalski from Inter IKEA. Her advice was to be specific and prioritise which business questions you want to tackle, be transparent and share the context of the challenge to ensure relevant input. “By being open with Jarek, he was able to dig into the issue and ask a lot of questions that would make us think deeply and reflect in a variety of ways. We would recap, clarify homework, and lock down key takeaways for implementation, and we can already see a shift in our business as a result,” says Staicu.
We also heard from Luis Miguel Botero, co-founder of Pomario, a social enterprise in our Latin America accelerator, who spoke about investment readiness. Botero explained how, with his co-founders and team, they divided responsibilities and ensured the continuity of running their business in parallel with development activities.
Continuing the conversation and celebrating the strength and courage of refugees
Over the following few years, the Refugee Employment Initiative aims to create 3,000 jobs and improve the lives of 5,000 refugees. We will report on progress over the programme period.
See more at NESsT