Ikea social Initiative Backgrounder

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IKEA Social Initiative

IKEA Social Initiative works together with UNICEF and Save the Children to promote the rights of every child to a healthy, secure childhood and access to quality education.
IKEA Social Initiative was formed in 2005 to address the company’s commitment to investments in social programmes on a global level. What once started as IKEA’s fight against child labour in the supply chain has developed into a broad commitment “to create a better everyday life for the many” children.
The mission of the IKEA Social Initiative is to improve the rights and life opportunities of the many children-creating substantial and lasting change.
IKEA Social Initiative is funded by IKEA, headed by Marianne Barner and is located in Helsingborg, Sweden.

In the mid 1990s, IKEA and many other companies became acutely aware of wide-spread child labour in South Asia. This was the starting point for IKEA’s fight against child labour in the supply chain. As a first step, IKEA asked Save Children to help formulate a child labour code of conduct, "The IKEA Way On Preventing Child Labour," which clearly states that all actions taken shall be in the best interests of the child. With that in mind, it was not enough simply to monitor compliance at IKEA suppliers.

So in 2000, IKEA joined forces with UNICEF in a massive bid to prevent and eliminate child labour in 'the carpet belt' in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh by attacking the root causes. Over seven years, 80,500 children received an education they would otherwise be denied and 1,740 self help groups (SHGs) were set up with more than 22,000 women. In addition, 140,000 children and 150,000 pregnant women in nearly 3,000 villages in the same area were provided with basic immunisation against life threatening disease.
The approach

The IKEA Social Initiative is focused on children's right to a healthy and secure childhood with access to quality education. Our main partners are the two leading global organisations for children's rights, UNICEF and Save the Children.

The IKEA Social Initiative invests in a range of programmes with a holistic approach to create a substantial and lasting change in the lives of children and women; improving their health, enabling access to a quality education for children, and empowering women to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
The IKEA Social Initiative believes that many small steps yield big results and takes its lead from IKEA’s core values in striving to invest in simple, cost effective and thrifty approaches with a warm human touch.
IKEA Social Initiative has chosen to concentrate its long-term commitments on South Asia, and especially India, where the needs of children and women are great, and where IKEA has long business experience.
Current main programmes

Health, nutrition, clean water and sanitation programmes in India (UNICEF)

These programmes, running 2007-2012, aim at developing integrated, community-based, sustainable approaches to improve child survival in some of India's most deprived areas. The initiative covers 18 states and is expected to reach 78 million children, four million adolescents and 10 million women by 2012. The focus is on improving the health and nutrition of children by:

  • providing infants with immunisation and vitamin supplements

  • advocating for breastfeeding and the importance of nutritious food for children under the age of 24 months

  • creating a healthy environment for children and their families at home and in school

  • ensuring water safety and better sanitation, such as better access to toilets and learning about basic hygiene

Child rights programme in cotton and cotton seed farming in Andhra Pradesh, India (UNICEF)

The programme aims to create a protective environment for children in more than 1,200 villages of Andhra Pradesh. Some 204,000 children below 14 years are aimed to be impacted by:

  • mainstreaming children into formal schools

  • improving quality education

  • organising young collectives and empowering them to influence their communities.

Child rights programme in the metal-ware industry in Moradabad, India (UNICEF)

This five-year programme aims at improving children’s and women’s access to basic rights and services. It will give around 20,000 children better access to quality education, strengthen 50 government schools and empower more than 4,000 women to improve their social and economic status so that they can become the change agents and sustain the programme efforts.

Child rights programme in the carpet belt in India (UNICEF)

In 2010, IKEA Social Initiative and UNICEF will launch an expansion of the pilot programme which took place in 500 villages of Uttar Pradesh to reach thousands more villages by 2015 in a planned manner. The programme will focus on children’s rights to health, education and protection.

Women’s economic empowerment in Uttar Pradesh, India (UNDP)

This cooperation with the UN Development Programme during 2009-2013 will enhance the social, economic and political empowerment of women in the 500 villages in Uttar Pradesh, India where IKEA Social Initiative and UNICEF have been present since 2000. At least 50,000 women (22,000 of them from self help groups set up in the previous UNICEF child rights programme) will be trained to become entrepreneurs and village leaders. They will get more advanced literacy and financial skills and leadership training in order to take on a catalytic and decision making role in institutions of their local community.

One euro is a fortune” (UNICEF and Save the Children)

During the holiday season at the end of each year, one euro for every Soft Toy sold in IKEA stores is donated by IKEA Social Initiative to Save the Children and UNICEF in support of educational programmes around the world – including China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe and Africa. Since 2003, the Soft Toy campaign (including IKEA PS BRUM) has raised a total of 16.7 million euros to support 40 programmes in more than 20 countries. The result has increased steadily each year and 2008’s campaign resulted in a 5.4 million euros donation to both organizations.

Emergency relief

IKEA Social Initiative helps during the initial phase of emergencies with donations of products. Examples include:

  • 344,000 quilts to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir;

  • 100,000 sheets, pillows, quilts etc after the 2008 earth quake-affected areas in China;

  • 200,000 IKEA soft toys to children in Myanmar after the 2008 cyclone Nargis.

IKEA Social Initiative works with its partners to provide mid-term/long-term support in the aftermath of a disaster:

  • India, after the 2007 and 2008 flooding;

  • Bangladesh, after the 2007 cyclone;

  • Gansu province, China, after the 2008 earthquake. Commitments include the provision of prefabricated classrooms, educational materials, school furniture and teacher training to the most vulnerable and needy schools and communities where children are at risk, as well as investments in improved water and sanitation.

In-kind donations

IKEA Social Initiative also gives products when a suitable opportunity arises. One example is the 18,000 tables that were donated by UNICEF to schools in Liberia and Burundi a couple of years ago.

Other supported programmes:

Since 2008, IKEA Social Initiative co-operates with the Paediatric Research Foundation of Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. The goal of the programme is to improve the health of the many children in India. The five-year program aims at developing research that can improve treatment of infectious diseases and illnesses common in newborns.

In 2008, IKEA Social Initiative entered a six-year co-operation with the Research Foundation of Lund Vietnam Childhood Cancer Program, Lund University Hospital, Sweden. The programme aims at making a permanent improvement of cancer care in order to increase the number of children surviving and recovering from cancer in Vietnam. The emphasis is on the training of doctors and nurses at the country’s major hospitals, the primary partner being the National Hospital for Paediatrics in Hanoi.

In 2008, IKEA Social Initiative entered a two-year co-operation with the international Mentor Foundation to address drug abuse and its health implications among young people in five countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Around 30,000 children aged 12-14 in 150 schools together with 30,000 parents and 400 teachers will be involved. The goal is to:

  • increase health related awareness and knowledge of social influencers

  • delay the onset of drug use;

  • improve knowledge, attitudes and skills concerning health behaviours and drug use;

  • reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis and thus the likelihood of future drug abuse.

Fast facts on UNICEF and IKEA partnership:

  • Began in 1988 in IKEA stores in USA, Canada and Netherlands.

  • In mid-‘90s began dialogue on child labour issues in the supply chain.

  • In 2000, began pilot project in India in 200 villages. Over the next seven years, grew to 500 villages. This investment was for a total of $1.5 million.

  • In 2003, the first IKEA cause-related marketing effort in support of UNICEF, the soft toy, IKEA PS BRUM, was launched. Today through holiday soft toy promotions IKEA Social Initiative is funding more than 25 UNICEF education programmes across Asia, Africa and Central Eastern Europe.

  • In 2005, IKEA Social Initiative was founded and made a 10-year commitment to UNICEF to children’s rights, with a special focus in India.

  • In 2007, IKEA Social Initiative signed a five-year commitment to India. Investments plus pledges amount to $120 million.

  • In 2008 alone, the total IKEA Social Initiative came to $37 million in cash and in-kind donations.

  • In 2009, UNICEF announced that IKEA Social Initiative is the single largest donor with $180 million in total donations and commitments.

February 2009

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