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IKEA’S INDIA CONNECTIONS

Two Indian NGOs, Rangsutra and Industree, have been working with IKEA on various collections under the Social Entrepreneurs umbrella since the last few years.

INDUSTREE social enterprise

Established in 1994, Industree creates ownership based, organised creative manufacturing ecosystem for micro-entrepreneurs.

BEGINNING OF THE COLLABORATION

Industree’s relationship with IKEA began in 2006-07 when Caroline, a merchant working at the IKEA office, visited Industree’s Chennai store.

IKEA KRYDDAD collection

Working with IKEA has also challenged Industree to up their game to ensure that IKEA standards are always maintained.

BANANA FIBRE

Industree’s artisans have created products using banana fibre for many of IKEA’s collections.

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES

“This entire process, from farm to fibre, employs mostly women and villagers in rural areas, increases incomes across the value chain, and reduces waste.”

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Showcase 04 Jul 2018

Indian social enterprise Industree takes us behind the scenes of its collaboration with IKEA

In 2012, IKEA initiated Social Entrepreneurs, wherein it partnered with various organisations across the world that employ local artisans from vulnerable communities. This mainly includes self-help groups and women-owned cooperatives. Two Indian NGOs, Rangsutra and Industree, have been working with Ikea on various collections under the Social Entrepreneurs’ umbrella since the last few years. INNEHÅLLSRIK (which means ‘comprehensive’ in Swedish) is the latest collection - designed by Stina Engler, product developer and Sarah Fager, designer - that Rangsutra and Industree are a part of. We speak to Industree about their experiences of working with IKEA and about their latest collaboration.

“If there’s one thing that our engagement with IKEA has taught us, it is that fair and safe working conditions, women’s empowerment and other social norms need to become a non-negotiable part of the ecosystem that we are building for artisans at the grassroots level, in order for us to take India’s rural producers to international markets,” says Ami Patel, partnership manager, Industree.

IKEA’S INDIA CONNECTIONS

Two Indian NGOs, Rangsutra and Industree, have been working with IKEA on various collections under the Social Entrepreneurs umbrella since the last few years.

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES

“This entire process, from farm to fibre, employs mostly women and villagers in rural areas, increases incomes across the value chain, and reduces waste.”

Established in 1994, Industree creates ownership based, creative organised manufacturing ecosystem for micro-entrepreneurs. Industree’s relationship with IKEA began in 2006-07 when Caroline, a merchant working at the IKEA office, visited Industree’s Chennai store and shared their range with Robert Max Metcalfe who was heading IKEA’s operations in Chennai at the time. Some of the self-help groups that Industree was working with produced around eight SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) for one of IKEA’s exhibition in Europe. From 2013 onwards, Industree has been a part of IKEA’s Social Entrepreneurs initiative. 

INDUSTREE social enterprise

Established in 1994, Industree creates ownership based, organised creative manufacturing ecosystem for micro-entrepreneurs.

Talking about the projects that they have been a part of so far, Ami says, “With IKEA designers, our producers co-create unique products for these collections which are available at IKEA stores in selected countries, using traditional handicraft methods and materials. We have worked on eight collections so far, with the next two in progress. We initially had two collections launched every year, which has now changed to one.”

BEGINNING OF THE COLLABORATION

Industree’s relationship with IKEA began in 2006-07 when Caroline, a merchant working at the IKEA office, visited Industree’s Chennai store.

“With IKEA designers, our producers co-create unique products for these collections which are available at IKEA stores in selected countries, using traditional handicraft methods and materials.”

The latest collection, INNEHÅLLSRIK, which was launched in IKEA stores in March 2018, features banana fibre baskets made by artisans Industree works with in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. For banana fibre products, the bark of the banana tree is peeled and dried, then hand-twisted and woven on a handloom to create eco-friendly products.

IKEA KRYDDAD collection

Working with IKEA has also challenged Industree to up their game to ensure that IKEA standards are always maintained.

This entire process, from farm to fibre, employs mostly women and villagers in rural areas, increases incomes across the value chain, and reduces waste. “Even for our artisans, it has been great exposure. Roslilina Mark, a master trainer in basketry, demonstrated working with banana bark at an event organised by IKEA in Sweden in early 2016. Mani, another master trainer, features in the series of videos on the INNEHÅLLSRIK collection,” says Ami.

BANANA FIBRE

Industree’s artisans have created products using banana fibre for many of IKEA’s collections.

She feels that working with IKEA has also challenged Industree to up their game to ensure that IKEA standards are always maintained, and this also goes for artisans who are working out of micro-production units in rural parts of the country. “We have been able to improve our systems and practices to such an extent that we are able to meet global standards of production and connect our artisans to other global buyers as well. It has been a great learning process for both Industree and the artisan groups. The collections are co-created by IKEA designers and artisans. It is in that sense a joint collaboration in the truest sense.”

You can read a more detailed story on how IKEA and Industree got together here.