Eight participants of the Dela Accelerator receive experimentation funding to advance their systems change journey

Nicola Gryczka, participating Dela social entrepreneur together with her IKEA co-workers ©MiguelBueno.jpg


The Dela accelerator, co-created by Ashoka and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, supports established social entrepreneurs from around the world to tackle society's systemic challenges. The programme enables participants to continue developing their strategies and enhance their impact. Focusing on knowledge exchange, it also offers a unique collaboration between social entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Ashoka and IKEA networks.  

In the current edition, eight of the eleven accelerator participants have kick-started the experimentation phase to focus on an element of their revised systems change strategy and test some of the key milestones to achieve it.  

During this phase, IKEA and Accenture co-workers with subject matter expertise will work alongside the social entrepreneurs, providing hands-on and skills-based support.  

To support the entrepreneur’s work during the Experimentation Phase, the Dela programme provides EUR 21.000 funding to each of the participants.

Below, we present a few takeaways on how this financial support and sounding board of experts will support each of the eight Dela social entrepreneurs in their systems change journey:


Plant trees, become a Green Saver

One of the recipients of the Dela experimentation funding is Ahsan Rony: environmental activist and Founder of Green Savers, an association working on urban agriculture and the environment in Bangladesh. Ahsan is tackling the lack and loss of greenery due to urbanization in the city of Dhaka by increasing awareness of trees – establishing 400 Green Club and Oxygen Banks in educational institutions all over the country and planting trees on over 5500 rooftops in Dhaka. 

Green Savers
Photo courtesy of Green Savers

Green Savers will be using the Dela experimentation funding to pilot the Gardeners Training Academy, which supports underprivileged youth to receive training on gardening, greenery restoration and urban farming, provided by The Dhaka North City Corporation. By promoting rooftop gardening, Ahsan and his team are restoring city greenery and tackling the lack of sufficiently trained gardeners. 


Ensuring a circular chain for secondary materials 

Pranshu Singhal is the Founder of Karo Sambhav, India's leading Producer Responsibility Organization, which aims to bring a paradigm shift in the waste management sector by putting accountability, transparency and trust in the system. 

Karo Sambhav collaborates with enterprises and enables them to close their material loops by designing and implementing transformative Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle programs for waste from electronics (E-waste) and plastics.

After receiving the Dela experimentation funding, Pranshu and his team are able to continue developing a research project that explores the complex problem in the value chain of how to ensure that secondary materials truly become circular.  


Using food as a tool for social change  

Nicola Gryczka is the Co-Founder of the Social Gastronomy Movement (SGM), a global network of interconnected local communities that promotes better nutrition, and a more sustainable food supply system through collaboration across sectors.

Photo by Miguel Bueno

Nicola and the team will benefit from the Dela experimentation funding by amplifying their movement's reach and becoming a mainstream concept.

Following their systems change vision to re-establish food sovereignty for local communities, the experimentation funding will aid in building the connection between producers and consumers. This will allow them to set a baseline of social industry standards for hospitality and food services that engage early adopters, newcomers and corporates in a more inclusive and just food system.


Transforming textile workshops in fast fashion toward sustainability  

María Almazán, CEO of Smart Green Industry, works to transform conventional textile workshops with sustainable practices used globally in textile production and consumption. María and her team create this transition through a methodology that includes working with manufacturers, workers and the environment, e.g. eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides in producing countries and reducing emissions. 

Maria Almazan
Photo courtesy by María Almazán

The Dela experimentation funding will support the finalization of a new sustainable fashion consumption app pilot to continue changing the textile value chain – shifting from fast fashion demands towards an increase in conscious buyers.  


Facilitating community building for inclusivity 

Hugo Menino Aguiar is the Co-founder and CEO of SPEAK, which promotes the emergence of inclusive communities where locals, migrants and refugees exchange ideas and develop meaningful bonds, facilitating informal language learning environments and community building.  

Hugo Menino Aguiar
Photo courtesy by Hugo Menino Aguiar

Fostering the social inclusion of migrants and leveraging diversity for a more equitable world, Hugo and his team joined the Dela programme following the creation of Diversity & Inclusion Journey – an impact venture that enables organizations to achieve their DEl goals, and helps individuals of all backgrounds and walks of life to reach their full potential in the workplace.

Hugo and his team will apply the Dela experimentation funding to build capacity among staff and continue developing the service piloted during the Dela programme, ensuring its sustainability.  


Securing livelihoods and respect for Persons With Disabilities 

B.S. Nagesh, founder of Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN), is supporting pride and respect for employees, and fostering inclusion in the retail industry by providing livelihoods to Persons With Disabilities. TRRAIN helps to equip low-income people, disabled people and other marginalized groups with the skills and support necessary to enter jobs within the retail sector.   

B.S. Nagesh
Courtesy of Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India

Through various projects, Nagesh and his team foster more equitable working spaces to create a more inclusive sector. The program has led to over 72% of participants securing jobs in retail and lifting their families out of poverty.

As a result, many were able to send siblings to school, pay parents’ outstanding loans, help support sisters’ marriages or put permanent roofs on houses that had previously been temporary or thatched. The Dela Experimentation funding will contribute to the sustainability of the ecosystem project, which will enable all stakeholders to access resources, collaborate and navigate an end-to-end Persons With Disabilities inclusion process while creating a network effect in the long term. 


Building networks for environmental conservation  

Silvia R. Ziller is dedicated to environmental conservation through her organization, The Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development in Brazil - a national center to develop alternatives for environmental conservation in Brazil, and address the threat of invasive alien species to biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. 

The Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development
Photo courtesy of Silvia R. Ziller ​​​​​​

The Horus Institute involves a network of contributors throughout Brazil providing data and technical support for national database maintenance. The Dela experimentation funding will be used to enhance the project developed during the accelerator, which aims to create awareness of biological invasions with certified forest companies – establishing a program for controlling pine invasions in ecologically sensitive areas in the Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil.   

The program, led by The Horus Institute, will allow forest companies to build capacity for the restoration of priority natural areas by controlling invasive alien pines and ensuring the conservation of ecosystem services. The experimentation funding will support them in the development of a compelling communication and financial strategy to approach key forest companies and help them understand the problem of biological invasions, allowing field visits and building willingness to work with the Horus Institute. 


Leading creative research and development for Deaf and all visual learners 

Melissa Malzkuhn, Founder of Motion Light Lab, is leading creative research and development to make Sign Language a human right. Motion Light Lab is a Deaf-founded and led, sign-centric space where creative literature intersects with digital technology to create learning experiences for Deaf children and all visual learners.  

Photo credit: Melissa serving as a motion capture model to create a 3D avatar. Obama.org
Melissa serves as a motion capture model to create a 3D avatar. Photo credit: Obama.org 

By participating in the Dela programme, Melissa and her team envisioned a paradigm shift in which Deaf children are raised in a language-rich environment. That’s why they embarked on creating a support system for families of Deaf children aged 0-5.   

The Dela experimentation funding will help fund the teams’ capacity to establish, launch, and maintain an alliance with a network of organizations offering comprehensive support services aimed at improving sign language access, support, and participation, which will ultimately lead to better health and social development outcomes of deaf children and their families. This is a pilot program, focusing on only three states, with a plan to scale nationally and eventually globally as well.  


Intrigued by the Dela programme? Read more about it here.