IWitness program provides co-workers with a first-hand look at the impact the IKEA Foundation programs have in the developing world
BURLINGTON, ON, July 9, 2013 /CNW/ - On May 19, 2013, two IKEA Canada co-workers returned from participating in IKEA's inaugural IWitness Global Citizen Program. The two candidates were selected from 61 applicants and were awarded a field trip to Malawi, Africa to visit UNICEF projects funded by the IKEA Foundation and the annual Soft Toys for Education program. The two selected co-workers were Viola Mah, Business Navigator, IKEA Edmonton and Natasa Njegovan, HR Administrator, IKEA Burlington.
"As IWitness Citizens, co-workers become leaders for change - educating other co-workers and the community on their experiences through photo journalism, blogs and sharing their experiences through social media networks," says Kerri Molinaro, President of IKEA Canada. "Experiencing first-hand the good work the IKEA Foundation does in developing countries is truly life changing. The program underscores IKEA's commitment to both providing our co-workers with unique development opportunities and ensuring that our business has a positive impact on the world."
Highlights from Viola and Natasa's trip to Malawi included: visits to schools to meet students and their families; a briefing with teachers and program managers; a tour of a community based child care centre, a centre that provides support for women and child survivors of sexual and gender based violence and a maternal and newborn care program at a local hospital.
"It isn't a coincidence that I found a job at an organization where children are considered the most important people in the world," says Natasa Njegovan, IKEA Canada IWitness Ambassador. "We share the same passion for bettering the lives of children worldwide, and it shows that IKEA is more than just a home furnishing store."
"For me, this IWitness trip has strengthened what it means to work at IKEA and what the company believes in," says Viola Mah, IKEA Canada IWitness Ambassador. "I now have a sense of pride and ownership that we are able to touch the lives of people who have never heard of IKEA."
Every year, the IKEA Foundation donates €1 for every soft toy sold at participating IKEA stores in November and December. The donation goes to Save the Children and UNICEF, and is spent on children's educational projects in developing countries. IKEA co-workers around the world work hard to promote the Soft Toy campaign in stores and to customers to raise awareness and funding for these life changing projects. Since 2003, the Soft Toys for Education campaign has raised €57 million for UNICEF and Save the Children helping to reach more than 10 million children in support of children's education projects.
The IWitness Global Citizen Program is one of the many programs that IKEA offers its employees to develop professionally and personally. In addition to the IWitness Global Citizen Program, IKEA Canada has several development opportunities that include: Backpacker program where employees work abroad in two different IKEA countries for one year; an educational assistance reimbursement of 75 per cent for academic courses related to their career path at IKEA.
IKEA is a leading home furnishing retailer with 325 stores in 40 countries worldwide, which are visited by 734 million people each year. IKEA Canada has 12 stores which are visited by over 25 million people every year. Last year the IKEA.com websites attracted over 1 billion visitors. Founded in 1943, IKEA's business philosophy is to offer a wide range of products of good design and function at prices so low, the majority of people can afford them. For more information on IKEA, please visit: www.IKEA.ca.
About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world's poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The 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 sustainable family income. Currently-funded programs benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.
SOURCE: IKEA Canada
Public Relations Manager