Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, can get a bad rap for igniting relationship disputes and making hard-to-assemble wares. But the Sweden-born store also recognizes that with massive power comes massive opportunity for doing good. Case in point: The company has teamed up with Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organization founded by Queen Rania of Jordan, to launch an ambitious employment initiative projected to hire some 200,000 impoverished people around the globe in the next 15 years.
The furniture giant will begin by incorporating the program into existing Jordan River Foundation facilities around the capital city of Amman and near the refugee camps along the Jordan-Syria border. The production centers will employ a mixture of Syrian refugees and local Jordanians to create handmade goods like rugs, cushions, and blankets. The first of these production centers are set to become operational by August.
The program is essentially a targeted expansion of the company’s existing social entrepreneurship initiative, which employs skilled craftspeople who wouldn’t otherwise have access to financially sustainable work. The first factories in Jordan will employ 400 people in the first two years.
“Two-hundred thousand is our long-term ambition," said Ikea’s Jesper Brodin in an interview with Dezeen. “It may take 10-15 years. We want these people to be our future suppliers.”
This initiative is an expansion of Ikea’s humanitarian efforts. Its award-winning flatpack shelter have gone to thousands of Syrian refugees since 2015.