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IKEA, a leading home furnishing retailer, launched the “IKEA Forward” accelerator program during the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2019 hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) in Bahrain.

The programme aims to support entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses with the potential of receiving an investment or partner with one of the biggest retailers in the world, said a statement.

Throughout the programme, participating entrepreneurs will have access to a wealth of experience offered by the IKEA Forward programme to help them develop their skills and scale their business to reach new levels of growth.

Saud Alsulaiman, Chief Executive Officer of IKEA Saudi and Bahrain, said: “At our company we believe that we have a responsibility towards sharing knowledge and adding value to all the communities we operate in, which has led us to launch IKEA Forward as a new platform to grow our community through entrepreneurship.”

“This will support and strengthen the local economy and drive innovation that improves our daily lives. IKEA Forward Accelerator will be serving as a vehicle through which entrepreneurship can reach new goals and encourage more entrepreneurs to unleash their potential,” he said.

“Startups will be shortlisted based on their business model that addresses one of four challenges; disruptive technology, improving customer experience, food innovation and sustainability,” he added.

The accelerator is designed to facilitate collaboration between the startups and IKEA where it will provide all the support, access to facilities and experts knowledge in the retail industry and potential access to its 400+ stores across 50 markets.

Through a rigorous evaluation process, four startups will be selected to join IKEA Forward, a three-month scale-up programme to help them develop their services, products or solutions to scale. For the duration of the IKEA Forward Program, the startups will work further on developing pilots while also gaining additional business knowledge and technology information during on-site pilot events at IKEA Forward in Saudi Arabia.

Entrepreneurship is the core of the IKEA business model and through partnerships with the local startups we aim to further strengthen our culture of innovation while contributing positively to the local economy, it stated.