Being the change
Written by Åsa Skogström Feldt, Managing director of IKEA Social Entrepreneurship BV
Åsa Skogström Feldt: Having breakfast this morning, I was thinking back to when we started the work expanding our support to social entrepreneurs some four years ago. One of our first activities was to co-create a global programme with Ashoka. Our focus at IKEA Social Entrepreneurship was (and still is) on people far away from the labour market, in vulnerable situations. Ashoka has much experience in the sector and with using a systems change approach. Based on our shared values, we developed the first version of the Dela Accelerator (‘Dela’, by the way, means ‘to share’ in Swedish).
It was a great learning experience for all of us, including our co-workers, who engaged as coaches. Working with strategy in action, we developed the programme and relationship continuously, and made sure to include stakeholders that could bring new perspectives along the road.
We jokingly said we were aiming for the stars and retrofitting our aeroplane to a space shuttle as we went. And more needs to be done, but I feel very proud of how far we have come with all the participants and lessons we have experienced over the years.
Last week, we kicked-off the third Dela Summit, which is always a favourite time of the year for me. The social entrepreneurs participating have reached half-time of the programme and are eager to share their updated strategies. It is a humbling experience to listen to all the pitches. I always find them sharp and inspiring; innovative and impact-oriented. It is also heart-warming to see the relationships between the social entrepreneurs and their coaches, who have been part of the process and are proud partners.
For many of the IKEA co-workers, participating is a learning journey — to both be and think outside of the box. In the complex world we live in, understanding systems is crucial for going from symptoms to root causes, and from transactional to transformational actions.
During the Summit, the social entrepreneurs also get to “pressure-test” their new strategies with other leaders, both from corporates, NGOs and other social enterprises. New perspectives, new contacts and more clarity on how to communicate are some of the benefits I heard this year.
Investing for impact in areas where big transformations need to happen
Dela is a global accelerator that is now in its third year. At IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, we have taken our experience and lessons from Dela as we co-created regional and local accelerators with other partners around the world. We have also added other tools to our portfolio of financial and non-financial support.
Investing for impact in areas where big transformations need to happen is something that deserves much more focus.
Social entrepreneurs can be catalysts and facilitators of multi-stakeholder actions that can change systems from the ground up.
Despite being called accelerators, it might be that growing an organisation isn’t the most strategic thing to do if you want to accelerate the solution you are after. This can be mind-boggling for entrepreneurs, and for business-oriented corporates as well.
Finding solutions together with the people affected by the challenges you want to be part of solving is an important innovation process. Finding solutions that are scalable is also crucial.
Working together across sectors and boundaries, we can all be part of the future we need!