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”.
The quote was widely reported, most likely, Kleinschmidt himself notes, because it completely contradicts the “refugee narrative” to which the world has become accustomed.
“We need to get away from the idea that refugees are poor little things that need to be fed and pampered – they’re capable human beings,” says Kleinschmidt, who worked for 25 years for the UN and the UN High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. “The whole aid conversation is about victims, which is why so many Europeans think these people are a burden, and not in fact an opportunity for change or development.”
Kleinschmidt applauds Ikea’s Jordan initiative. “There are three billion people living in poverty, and they need jobs. It’s great that a brand name as recognisable as Ikea is finally sending that signal.”
He points to an initiative called ReBootKamp (RBK) as another example of a refugee-focused programme that offers a meaningful hand up. RBK provides intensive IT training to Syrian refugees with the aim of turning them into high quality software engineers. There are no upfront costs or previous education requirements, women are especially encouraged to apply and all graduates are guaranteed employment upon completion of the 12-week course.
To be clear, this isn’t a charitable programme, but rather one born of the age-old notion of supply and demand. Speaking to Wamda, an Middle Eastern entrepreneurial website, Hugh Bosely, the director of RBK, said securing backing for the programme was “an easy sell”: “Silicon Valley stepped up to the plate and threw their whole weight behind us. We’ve had pledges to hire every programmer we can produce, that’s how much demand there is for it.”
Sep 26, 2020Bangladesh will bring the unresolved Rohingya crisis before the global leaders today (Saturday) apparently reminding everybody of the failure to find a durable solution to the crisis amid Myanmar’s non-fulfilment of repatriation pledge, officials said, reports UNB. Bangladesh will also seek genuine efforts from the global community to help Rohingyas return to their place of […]