Employment & Entrepreneurship

IKEA Foundation scholarships give young women hope for a better future

The IKEA Foundation is providing scholarships totaling nearly €7 million to help 840 girls and young women in Asia receive a quality education they otherwise could not afford.

The donations to two partners – the Lila Poonawalla Foundation and the Asian University for Women – will help young scholars create more opportunities to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation said:  “Women’s education is no doubt a powerful tool for improving the lives of children in developing countries. Our partners are making a vital contribution to this area. Having personally met some of the students, faculty and staff, I am excited and optimistic that these partnerships will be of enduring value.”

Creating a sustainable future for families

One of the IKEA Foundation’s partners, the Lila Poonawalla Foundation, helps young women in India pursue higher education in engineering and other chosen fields. Founded by Lila Poonawalla, a business executive and the first Indian female CEO, the foundation focuses on the importance of education in creating a sustainable future for women and their families.

Over the next several years, the IKEA Foundation is giving the Lila Poonawalla Foundation nearly €3.16 million to fund scholarships for 740 girls and young women from India. In addition to an education, they will also be able to access other programmes, including job placement services and counseling.

Lila Poonawalla said, “The Lila Poonawalla Foundation was started with the vision of assisting needy, but deserving, girls to enable them to complete their education and change their destinies. Initially, the foundation started by giving scholarships to 50-60 girls every year, but since 2011, after collaborating with the IKEA Foundation and with their support, LPF has been able to reach out to many more talented, meritorious and financially deserving girls, especially from the rural areas.”

One of Lila Poonawalla’s scholars, Sayali Dodake, explained the vital difference her scholarship is making in her life. “It would have been almost impossible for me to realise my dream of completing a computer engineering course, as my father is no more and my mother is the sole earning member in my family. But after receiving this scholarship, not only will I realise my dream, I am also confident of achieving success in my chosen career.”

University degrees mean more opportunities

In addition, the IKEA Foundation is contributing over €3.8 million to the Asian University for Women so 100 students can study for a degree.

The Asian University for Women provides both a pre-university preparatory programme as well as an undergraduate programme in the liberal arts and sciences.

The 100 IKEA Foundation scholars come from nine countries across Asia: Afghanistan (7), Bangladesh (40), Bhutan (3), Cambodia (2), India (15), Nepal (13), Pakistan (2), Sri Lanka (16) and Vietnam (2).

AUW’s founder, Kamal Ahmad, explains: “AUW is helping create a new network of women leaders whose life experiences and social commitments combined with the excellent education provided at AUW will propel them into vital changemakers in the region. This work would not be possible without the support of the IKEA Foundation and others like it.”

The IKEA Foundation funds scholarships for women because we believe that women’s education plays a key role in improving the lives of children in developing countries.

Find out more

Read the story of Tejashree, a Lila Poonawalla scholar

Our partnership with the Lila Poonawalla Foundation

Our partnership with the Asian University for Women