Africa: IKEA Soft Toys embrace children's right to education

from UN Children's Fund
Published on 10 Nov 2009 View Original
Sales of cuddly toys to benefit UNICEF, Save the Children

GENEVA, 10 November 2009 - IKEA stores worldwide have unwrapped its phenomenally successful Holiday season fundraising campaign, donating 1 euro for every soft toy sold in its stores on line to benefit UNICEF and Save the Children.

Now in its 5th year, "1 euro is a fortune... a smile is worth so much" Soft Toys Campaign has raised over $25 million for both organizations. The fundraising drive started earlier this year, from November 1st, and will stretch to December 24th.

"In UNICEF we know that there is no better investment than that in the education of children," said Philip O'Brien, Director of UNICEF's Private Fundraising and Partnerships division from New York. "IKEA's wonderful Soft Toy Initiative takes this message to hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide and gives them the opportunity to personally contribute to ensuring that millions of children in Africa have a quality education and a better future."

The donations from this year's Soft Toys sales goes from the IKEA Social Initiative to UNICEF in support of "Schools for Africa" with a focus on Child Friendly Schools in 6 countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, South Africa, Madagascar) as well as education and protection projects in China and Russia.

More than 500,000 children along with their teachers and parents are expected to benefit from this year's campaign alone.

"The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. We believe children to be the most important people in the world, and supporting projects that give children access to quality education is an important and rewarding task of IKEA Social Initiative", said Marianne Barner, head of the IKEA Social Initiative.

Despite efforts to promote access to quality education, many African countries are still struggling with the challenges of providing inclusive quality education. Countries grapple with rural-urban disparities, the combined effects of poverty, climate change, the impact of HIV and AIDS, high dropout rates, deep-seated socio-cultural inequalities, the impact of civil conflicts, and sheer lack of basic infrastructure, including lack of water and poor sanitation.

The IKEA funding will help UNICEF mainstream the comprehensive Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) approach to ensure a quality education for all children.

In Ethiopia, for example, 350,000 children in 300 primary schools stand to benefit from improved quality education through a combination of innovative approaches like school cluster based educational interventions, the acquisition and enhancement of additional methodologies by their teachers, furnishing of educational materials, equipped classrooms, libraries and the provision of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities such as separate latrines, hand-washing facilities and potable drinking water.

Since the campaign started in 2003, UNICEF has received almost 12 million from the IKEA Social Initiative. The funds are benefiting education projects for 7 million school age children in more than 20 countries.

IKEA has launched a fun website called Soft Toys AID, supporting UNICEF and Save the Children's education programmes. On the site the IKEA, Soft Toys get together to sing for a better world and visitors are invited to join them in an attempt to create the World's biggest Choir.

UNICEF video and high-resolution photography for media organizations is available at:


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The worlds largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information, please visit:

About IKEA

Founded in Sweden in 1943, IKEA offers home furnishing and accessories of good design and function at low prices so the many people can afford them. There are currently 268 IKEA Group stores in 25 countries with 590 million visitors last year. IKEA incorporates social and environmental efforts into day-to-day business and continuously supports initiatives that benefit causes such as children and the environment. For more information, please visit:

About IKEA Social Initiative

IKEA Social Initiative was formed in 2005 to manage social involvements on a global level. The mission of IKEA Social Initiative is to improve the rights and life opportunities of the many children - fighting for children's rights to a healthy and secure childhood with access to quality education. UNICEF and Save the Children are the main partners, with a range of programmes taking a holistic approach for creating a substantial and lasting change: improving the health of mothers and children, enabling access to a quality education for children, and empowering women to create a better future for themselves and their communities. Current programmes will benefit an estimated 100 million children. IKEA Social Initiative is the UN Children's agency's biggest corporate partner, with total commitments of more than $180 million from 2000 to 2015. For more than 15 years, IKEA has supported UNICEF and children's rights through community investments, advocacy, philanthropy, humanitarian assistance, sales of UNICEF greeting cards, cause-related marketing promotions and in-kind assistance.

About Schools for Africa

Schools for Africa was initiated in 2004 to raise money to help over four million children in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe to have a protective and accessible learning environment. It was expanded in 2009 to support Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, a total of 11 countries across in Eastern, Western and Southern and Central African region and aims to help millions more children. For more information, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

Sita Verma, IKEA Social Initiative Tel: +46-732-321611 e-mail:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Tel: + 1 212 326 7452 e-mail: