The Challenge

The challenge is how to best support social entrepreneurs scale their system change using the combined competencies of Ashoka expertise in accelerator programmes and the knowledge and business skill of IKEA.

IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and Ashoka came together to support the social entrepreneurship movement. Both organisations aim to enable social entrepreneurs to scale their impact and reach their full potential. Both believe in systems change as an approach to address the roots causes of social challenges rather than their symptoms, to engage a multitude of actors and motivate them to act and enable lasting and effective change.

The Practice

Together, Ashoka and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship co-created an accelerator programme ‘Dela’[1] that would offer social entrepreneurs with proven impact and business models an opportunity to not only strategize for systems change, but to take the first step and start implementing their updated strategies with the support of business experts. Thus, increasing the likelihood of successful implementation.

The Dela accelerator comprises of 3 main phases:

  1. Strategy Phase: 12 participating social entrepreneurs (SE) are paired with Ashoka systems change strategy facilitators, and a team of Thought Partners (IKEA co-workers and other Ashoka partners) to create a robust system change strategy and a plan to implement it.
  2. Summit: the SEs present their updated strategies to a group of handpicked leaders from the global social innovation and corporate sector who provide feedback and offer connections and resources to support them. SE also connect with each other as a cohort to reflect on leadership challenges linked to Dela or beyond.
  3. Scoping & Experimentation Phase: those SEs that find it relevant, continue their journey in Dela by selecting an element of their newly updated strategy that they would like to further plan, test, or start implementing. During Scoping, they identify the resources needed to do so and test their assumptions, before entering  Experimentation where they work alongside a lean team of Experimentation Experts from IKEA and other collaborators.


The Dela Accelerator resources social entrepreneurs to grow their impact beyond their organization by (re)defining a strategy towards a system change goal that focuses on one of more elements of the system they are intervening – we use the 5R model to define this goal (resources, relationships, roles, rules, results). How these elements will be affected depends on each social entrepreneur and takes time to assess. Some of the key immediate results from the Accelerator are:

  • Each SE who completes the program receives around 167h of support from IKEA co-workers and 290h from other experts.
  • SE reported 86% likelihood to recommend Dela to peers.
  • SEs changed 54% of their initial strategies. All of them shifted their impact focus from Direct Service to Systemic Impact (on average they report their strategies became 43% more systemic)

By supporting the Accelerator participants in their strategic thinking process, volunteer corporate thought partners gain new insights and agency on social impact and changemaking. Here are some immediate results IKEA co-workers reported from both editions in Dela:

  • IKEA co-workers reported 89% likelihood to recommend the Dela II to their peers
  • All IKEA co-workers gained new insights in at least one of the following areas: 1) how to work, organize and lead (40%), 2) markets and business models (55%); 3. Systems change (91%); 4) Social Entrepreneurship (84%)
  • All IKEA co-workers gained new motivation to do at least one of the following actions: 1) engage colleagues to create positive social impact (72%); 2) create positive social impact at work (93%); 3) solve social problems (63%)

Insights / Advice to Peers

  • Updating a strategy is not the end of the story. A painpoint of social entrepreneurs is often the lack of support and resources to test their assumptions and updated strategies. This resulted in the design of an additional phase to Dela, offering SE the necessary resources and a safe space to test elements of their updated strategy, through tapping into the knowledge and resources of IKEA co-workers and other collaborators. Data from Dela I indicate that this worked: SE rated their readiness to scale towards systemic change with 8.4 out of 10 compared to 4.3 before Dela I Implementation Phase.
  • Systems thinking is an essential element for change, but it is often messy and uncomfortable. Make sure this is acknowledged, understood and accepted by all collaborators.
  • Collaboration takes time, as it is a complex, highly iterative process, and requires trust. Make sure there are enough time and resources to support your collaborative process. There are online workshops and even organizations that can help facilitate multi-stakeholder collaborations.
  • Focus on openness: be prepared to give up control, as this is often the faster (and cheaper) way to scale impact.

We hope that this partnership could also act as a model, inviting other corporates to join the social entrepreneurship movement, hence bringing more resources, and creating a deeper dent in the system.

Further Resources


Stella Printezi

Stefannia Russo

[1] Dela means “to share” in Swedish