IKEA connecting social entrepreneurs in rural India to the global market

Published on July 9, 2015

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What does a typical IKEA supplier look like? Maybe you imagine a large factory filled with people making thousands of products a day. But we also work with much smaller producers. Artisans of handmade crafts, producing limited numbers of unique items. Meet the social entrepreneurs whose businesses are changing the lives of people in their communities.

Since 2012 IKEA has been forming partnerships with social entrepreneurs around the world. The social entrepreneurs IKEA works with gain access to a global marketplace, giving them a strong foundation for self-sufficiency and independence.

“These partnerships are a new way to make business where everyone wins. The social entrepreneurs gain access to a global marketplace and are able to provide the artisans with a job on their own terms, helping them stay in their village and at the same time provide for their families,” says Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group.

The two social enterprises Rangsutra and Industree PT in India, use handicraft businesses to reduce poverty and to empower women by making them more financially independent. Many women in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka where Rangsutra and Industree PT operate are employed in vulnerable jobs which lack the protection of labour laws. Having an income gives women, and their children, in rural India new opportunities in life.

“For the most vulnerable members of society, earning an income opens up new opportunities. Women in rural communities often have little or no access to education, healthcare or a paid employment. Forming long-term partnerships with Rangsutra and Industree PT gives women in rural India a chance to independence and a better future,” says Vaishali Misra, Initiative Leader, IKEA of Sweden.

Through Rangsutra, around 600 women work with IKEA productions. Rangsutra gathers hundreds of artisans in small production cooperatives. By creating products using traditional handicraft techniques Rangsutra not only provide jobs but also help to preserve an important part of the cultural heritage.

“Rangsutra is basically an attempt to generate sustainable livelihoods for rural artisans, building upon traditional skills they already had. By giving regular work, and income, to women they get a say in what the family decides. They also have some more money to spend on healthcare”, says Sumita Ghose, founder and Managing Director of Rangsutra.

The STADIG collection will be launched in connection to the International Women’s Day in IKEA stores in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and the UK from Mars 2015. All profits from the STADIGT collection will be used in IKEA long-term partnerships with social entrepreneurs to support economic, environmental and social development.

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