IKEA Foundation commits EUR 16 million for programme to improve the lives of one million underprivileged women and girls in India

To celebrate the Day of the Girl Child, IKEA Foundation announced a new partnership that aims to provide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to one million underprivileged women across India. The unique three-year programme will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Xyntéo and the India Development Foundation (IDF). The programme is approved by India’s Ministry of Finance.

Even as India has witnessed a decline in women’s participation in the workforce by 10 percentage points between 2005 and 2010, recent estimates from the International Monetary Fund suggest that India’s GDP could expand by 27 percent if the number of female workers increases to the same level as that of men.

Recognizing the importance of improving women’s workforce participation, this programme has three objectives:

  • create a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of women through training, employment and entrepreneurial skills development
  • test and establish an innovative model of a public-private partnership that responds to the aspirations and needs of women, and identified needs of the private sector
  • establish a continuum that connects education, to skills, jobs and growth

Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO  said: “We believe that women can be the most important catalysts for change in their children’s lives as well as in society more generally. By empowering women, we can improve children’s health, education and future – and that’s good for everyone in India.”

The three-year programme with a budget of approximately EUR 16 million will focus on Karnataka, Maharashtra;  Telengana and the National Capital Region . The programme will address the demand and supply side of women’s employment by securing commitments from businesses in identifying employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women; mobilizing women to participate in skills and training courses; and supporting the development of training curricula relevant to aspirations of women and business needs.

The programme is aligned with the priorities of the Government of India which has launched a range of skill development initiatives in the country. Commending the Government of India on its far-reaching skill development policy, Yuri Afanasiev, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, India said, “The partnership aims to demonstrate the power of collaboration in helping women become economically self-sufficient, through addressing the aspirations of young women, the needs of business, and training provided by skilling institutions in the country.’’

A study commissioned by UNDP has pointed to the urgent need to address the skills gap faced by women in India. According to the study, between 10 to 23 percent of women hold professional diplomas/ certificates. In addition, 45 percent of women in Hyderabad, and 70 percent in the National Capital Region believed they lack the business skills required to successfully manage businesses.  Respondents to the survey identified other barriers such as lack of information on training and employment opportunities followed by cost of training, quality of training, availability of employment opportunities close by, constraints in commuting to and from the workplace and rigid working norms.

Ashish Bhatt, Managing Director, Xyntéo, said: “This programme strives to ensure that India’s women – the country’s greatest untapped resource – have the opportunity to gain genuine skills and enjoy meaningful employment. Such partnerships are at the core of Xyntéo’s mission to reinvent growth together with our partners. We are proud of the part this partnership will play in helping realise the country’s full economic potential.’’

On 23 October, several national and global CEOs, policymakers and representatives from the development sector will participate in a roundtable discussion on expanding employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women. Confirmed speakers at the event in Mumbai include:

  • N Chandrasekaran, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Juvencio Maeztu, Country Head, IKEA Retail India
  • S Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Corporation
  • Yasmine Hilton, India Country Chair, Shell
  • Luca Crisciotti, CEO, DNV GL Business Assurance
  • Gagan Singh, CEO of Business (India) and chairperson of Sri Lanka Operations, JLL
  • Renana Jhabvala, president of SEWA Bharat

For more information, please contact:

Radu Dumitraşcu, IKEA Foundation: radu.dumitrascu@ikeafoundation.org; +31 6556 98570

Kaveri Marathe, Xyntéo: km@xynteo.com; +47 9055 4669

Nandita Surendran, UNDP: nandita.surendran@undp.org; +91 9810084776

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org and www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation

About Xyntéo

Xyntéo’s mission is to reinvent growth. As an advisory firm, we work with global companies to identify and carry out projects that aim to enable businesses to grow in a new way, fit for the resource, climate and demographic realities of the 21st century. A key aspect of our work is bringing together multiple partners including business, finance, government, academia and civil society to focus on how we can collaborate to help drive prosperity and sustainable growth. Topics that particularly interest us include the energy transition, transformational finance, 21st century leadership and the new climate agenda. Learn more at www.xynteo.com

About UNDP

UNDP works in more than 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development from democratic governance to poverty eradication to sustainable energy and environmental management. www.in.undp.org

About India Development Foundation

India Development Foundation (IDF) is a private, non-profit, research foundation set up as a Trust in 2003. Guided by the principles of equality and non-discrimination, IDF works on a variety of issues with a view to inform policymakers. One of its focus areas is to develop awareness about how markets work, why they are desirable and how to develop them. IDF aims to help policymakers transform emerging economies into market-based societies.

Media contact

In collaboration with
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)