Very Cool Social Collaboration – The UN & IKEA Create Flat-Pack Shelters for Refugees

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Brands Behaving with a Higher Purpose.
News this week of the IKEA Foundation‘s ongoing collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide the UNHCR with 10,000 flat-pack Better Shelter units for refugee and disaster aid through IKEA’s Housing for All Foundation provides a further indication that brands global and local continue to understand that the role they play in society as a force for good can be equally valuable in building brand equity.

IKEA’s innovative Better Shelter structures represent a major milestone in humanitarian design. Designed for optimal shipping volume and weight, price, safety, durability, health, and comfort, the structures represent “a groundbreaking example of democratic design,” and are currently being manufactured for distribution in this year’s Northern Hemisphere summer.

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In a press release, Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications for the IKEA Foundation said; “Putting refugee families and their needs at the heart of this project is a great example of how democratic design can be used for humanitarian value. We are incredibly proud that the Better Shelter is now available, so refugee families and children can have a safer place to call home”.

brand sytrategy with social conscience

The structures come with a host of improvements on current refugee housing solutions. Traditional refugee tents last around six months, while the new IKEA-built shelters are designed to last for three years, and come equipped with a solar panels and lamps providing nighttime light. The Better Shelters include windows, ventilation, and a door that actually locks. In addition to the ease of transport afforded by their flat-pack form, true to the IKEA brand, the shelters can also be quickly installed by UNHCR workers and residents using only the tools and instructions contained in the box. Shaun Scales, Chief of Shelter and Settlement at UNHCR, described the new refugee housing unit as “an exciting new development in humanitarian shelter,” one that will greatly improve the lives of persons in crisis soon but also provide “a much needed addition to the palette of sheltering options.”

social enterprise branding

The IKEA Housing for All Foundation is a glowing example of a brand looking to add social good to their activities. And whilst the Better Shelter project is attracting a bucket load of PR for the Swedish furniture brand, they are making a real difference to people in real need along the way and inspiring others to do the same. I believe that’s what they call ‘Win-Win’.

Dave Ansett
Creator of Brands
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Pics courtesy of ‘Better Shelter’ via

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