India has been our biggest focus; We are working on similar projects in other segments too: Jeffrey Prins, Head of Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation

Last week, IKEA Foundation and SELCO Foundations on Friday launched a new initiative ‘Energy for Health’. The initiative has received initial funding of €48 million from the IKEA Foundation.

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Jeffrey Prins, Head of Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation (

A Dutch Foundation, IKEA Foundation, was founded in 1982 by Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish billionaire and founder of IKEA. The foundation funds programmes like the empowerment of women and children, refugee children, prevention of child labour and emergency response like COVID-19.

Last week, IKEA Foundation and SELCO Foundations on Friday launched a new initiative ‘Energy for Health’. Under this initiative, 25,000 healthcare facilities in 12 states in India will be powered by sustainable energy and upgraded with energy-efficient medical equipments by 2026 under this initiative. The initiative has received initial funding of €48 million from the IKEA Foundation.

During the announcement, Financial got the opportunity to speak to Jeffrey Prins, Head of Renewable Energy, IKEA Foundation and he talked about scope of this initiative, impact of COVID-19, role of IKEA Foundation, and future plans among others. Excerpts:

What is the objective of this announcement today?

The objective is to celebrate that we are moving in the right direction. We started a few years back with COVID-19 relief and we are challenged by our partner SELCO Foundation. The challenge, as in, “what else can we do?” COVID-19 hit us…we gave $2 million in covid relief effort and we are just amazed by the results we have achieved…we opened 2000 health clinics. It was great to see that the 2000 health clinics were solar-powered with our emergency relief and also realising it can be done. We don’t have to wait for the next crisis to act, we can actually do forward-thinking. In August last year, we had another conversation about this as we are getting good results. It’s not just about solar panels but also about building, efficiency, also thinking about long-term operation maintenance. 25,000 health clinics sound like a lot but it’s just a drop in the ocean. If you look at the bigger numbers, the one billion people don’t have access to hospitals or no reliable energy. It can’t be just IKEA Foundation or SELCO Foundation…we really have to set the standard up. India is a credible partner to many countries.

After COVID-19 a lot has changed across the world. We have now a different perspective toward healthcare. What more is IKEA Foundation planning to do?

IKEA is always about design. So, we try to take that DNA and use energy as a catalyst. It can be innovative for those who need the most. The dynamics is changing and it’s really from the perspective of the needs. We are trying to use energy as an analytic tool to do more. So, basically this will be big push for the 25,000 health clinics that we hope to achieve by 2026. We are also exploring if it could be the benchmark or the blueprint for other parts of the world. We want to make India the R&D hub for others. We are in touch with WHO and IRENA too to understand and plan what the next step might be. We have initially talked about the five-countries approach in Africa among others…those are the next conversations that are going on.

How this project will be implemented in a massive country like India?

We are doing this SELCO Foundation and we are launching this today. But we need others. The massive effort looks at 12 states…so we have to lean heavily on SELCO Foundation. So, when we started our journey in 2015, we asked ourselves how could energy be catalytic for some basic services like health and education for those who need it the most. But also for environment, jobs and livelihood. So, we are focus on whether energy can be used as a tool for development and that journey started in 2017…we got a bit of traction and then covid hit us. In all that work, we get most attention not from energy experts but those who need it. So, we have established lot of partnerships with SELCO Foundation like in the North-East Corona trust, Doctors For You…we have relationships with UNICEF. There are some incredible organisations out there that are ready to come forward.

Is IKEA Foundation planning to explore India as an R&D hub in other segments also?

Yes. India is a country where most of our givings has taken place. I think the history goes back to the 80s I guess and it was only in 2009 that we really established ourselves officially as a Foundation and India has been the biggest…our main focus country. Historically, more than 50 percent of our givings has gone into India and now we are giving 400 million Euros each year. So, India is a very important country for us. We are looking at things like agriculture, livelihoods like how can we return soil health, how can we ensure that the farmers involved…we are looking at employment in entrepreneurship. So, these are some of the other things that we are working on.

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First published on: 10-04-2023 at 16:51 IST