Compassion trumps fear
Ikea might not have solved the issue of incorporating millions of refugees into their host nation’s economies, but the plan they’ve unveiled certainly creates a template that many other multinational firms could adopt to mitigate the crisis.
Beginning in 2019, the Swedish furniture juggernaut will make available for sale an assortment of textiles, fabrics and rugs made by Syrian refugees in Jordan. Ikea had previously used its nonprofit division to help provide housing, food, and other necessities for refugees ranging from Asia and Africa.
A recent Ikea innovation, the Flatpack Shelter, won a design award for its utility in helping house those in need:
Speaking to CNN, managing director Jesper Brodin said of their effort, "The situation in Syria is a major tragedy of our time, and Jordan has taken a great responsibility in hosting Syrian refugees... We decided to look into how Ikea can contribute."
While the recent announcement regarding rugs and textiles is timed with President Trump’s controversial executive order banning the intake of refugees from several countries, Syria included, the project had been incubating since before his election. However, Ikea did speak out against the order recently, stating,
Ikea’s new initiative is thought to employ only about 200 Syrian refugees initially, but the impact may be more profound in what it shows the world companies can do rather than in its actual employment numbers. The limited edition run produced by refugees could prove to many other firms that employing the disenfranchised will not only create goodwill but could also serve as a viable production model, especially given the many customers who would gravitate towards purchasing items with such ancillary benefits.