How Ikea helped to change attitudes on helping refugees
In November 2016, Ikea took a pioneering step in its already comprehensive sustainability programme. The furniture retailer decided to open production centres near Jordanian refugee camps in Amman with the aim of eventually providing employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people in the area – refugees included, both inside the city and on its outskirts.
Where many brands and retailers count promotional activities and donations to those in conflict-stricken areas among their CSR efforts, Ikea’s approach implements a more long-term, sustainable model of support.
But in doing this, the company has entirely turned on its head the traditional perception of refugee status. A statement released by the brand says that one of the main aims of the programme is “supporting Jordan’s journey in integrating refugees with locals in the labour market through creating jobs”. The objective, then, is not to simply maintain a temporary population, but to allow a growing community and the location in which it’s based to thrive and flourish – a notion that briefly touched the headlines in 2015 when Kilian Kleinschmidt, a humanitarian aid expert, told Dezeen, an architecture and design magazine, that governments need to view refugee camps as “the cities of tomorrow.”