“Time is of the essence”: How the Ikea Foundation responds

In the wake of the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria in February this year, retailers have joined the global aid and relief efforts to address the immense need in the region. The death toll from the earthquakes has been estimated at more than 57,300, and countless individuals and families have been left homeless and in dire need of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and medical care.  Damages have been estimated at US$104 billion (A$156 billion) in Turkey and US$5.1 b

$5.1 billion (A$7.7 billion) in Syria.

In response to the crisis, Swedish multinational furniture retailer Ikea has donated 20 million euros (A$32.8 million) to supporting relief efforts in the affected regions and helping those who have been impacted by these natural disasters. 

The Ikea Foundation

On 8 February, the Ikea Foundation announced it was sending 10 million euros (A$16.4 million) in emergency funding to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to provide much-needed emergency assistance and lifesaving care to the people affected by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

According to a spokesperson from Ikea, harsh weather and below-zero temperatures were exacerbating the situation for survivors in Turkey and Syria. 

The need for shelter and protection remains enormous and is growing, as hundreds of thousands of people in both countries are still homeless.

It was in this vein that the Ikea Foundation announced a further donation of 10 million euros to Better Shelter in mid-February, taking the full donation to Turkey and Syria to 20 million euros.

“The Ikea Foundation remains deeply committed to responding to emergencies and helping displaced people rebuild their lives. When an emergency strikes, time is of the essence,” the spokesperson told Inside Retail.

The spokesperson went on to say that supplies like food, medicine and hygiene kits are needed immediately, not several days later. 

A hyper-connected effort

To provide the most timely and efficient response, the Ikea Foundation gives unrestricted emergency funding to a select few partner organisations, who work mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. 

The partner organisations, as experts in their field, deliver life-saving support for families affected by disasters, and help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. 

The Foundation itself is a philanthropic organisation and completely independent from Ikea the business. Its focus is on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grantmaking.

It currently grants more than 200 million euros (A$328 million) per year to help improve family incomes and quality of life while protecting the planet from climate change. Since 2009, Foundation has granted more than 1.5 billion euros (A$2.5 billion) to create a better future for children and their families.

Supply chain issues

While a number of Ikea suppliers in Turkey have also been affected by the earthquakes, the spokesperson said the priority right is on addressing people’s immediate needs. 

“It takes time to assess the full scope of what has happened and the impact it has on people and business. The priority right now is to first and foremost care for the people and the community,” they said.

The Foundation’s 20 million euros contribution will help provide 5,000 emergency shelters for survivors and will accommodate more than 20,000 people with much-needed temporary homes. 

In addition, Ikea Retail in Turkey has been donating blankets, quilts and pillows, and its supply chain operations team has quickly mobilised 36 trucks normally used for Ikea deliveries to move the 5,000 shelters from their current location in Poland to Turkey.

Social responsibility

According to Jon Morgan, CEO of Venture Smarter, a consulting firm, a growing number of companies have recognised the importance of giving back to the communities in which they operate, and typically respond to natural disasters with a sense of urgency and compassion.

“By launching charitable campaigns and donating to relief efforts, these companies are not only helping those in need, but also demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility and community engagement,” Morgan told Inside Retail.

Overall, he believes that many companies are reacting to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in a responsible and compassionate way, and that these charitable campaigns can make a real difference in the lives of those affected by these disasters.