Our history

INGKA Foundation was founded in 1982, but our roots stretch all the way back to 1943 and a rural part of Sweden known as Småland. That is when and where our founder, Ingvar Kamprad, started a small business to sell basic, everyday household items, such as pens and picture frames.

He registered the trademark IKEA after his initials (IK), the farm he grew up on (Elmtaryd) and the nearby village of Agunnaryd.

A little shed on the side of the road with an IKEA sign on it

The first IKEA "warehouse". Built at Elmtaryd, it stored packages before they were picked up by the milk van that would deliver them to the post office.

Ingvar and his sister growing up at the house in Elmtaryd.

Ingvar Kamprad holding a EDVARD chair

Ingvar Kamprad with the EDVARD chair outside IKEA Kungens Kurva (Stockholm), Sweden.

Having grown up in a rural area where families had to be innovative and economical with few resources, Ingvar Kamprad developed a concern for “the many people”. He asked himself why beautiful products were made only for the few. He believed it should be possible to offer good design and functionality at low prices that the many could afford.

Ingvar Kamprad devoted himself to building a business selling great home-furnishings at affordable prices. Thanks to the great work of thousands of co-workers, IKEA now brings beautiful, functional items into millions of homes around the world.

With time, and as IKEA grew more successful, Ingvar Kamprad’s thoughts also turned to how could he secure the business’s future after he passed away. That resulted in his setting up INGKA Foundation as a charitable foundation registered in the Netherlands. He effectively gave the INGKA Group – the largest IKEA retailer – to INGKA Foundation, which secured the long-term ownership and independence of INGKA Group and provided a setup that could live on after his death.

At the same time, it ensured funds would be spent on charitable programmes that would improve everyday life for the many people in need, a purpose that was very close to his heart.

He also set up the IKEA Foundation to carry out that philanthropy, being funded by INGKA Foundation.

Our culture and values

Although INGKA Foundation is separate from the IKEA retail business, we are deeply rooted in the IKEA culture and values. Originating in the Småland region of Sweden, where Ingvar Kamprad grew up, our company culture is straightforward and down-to-earth. We are problem-solvers always looking for new, simple and better ways to do things. We believe in working together and in leading by example. We care deeply about the planet we all share.
Our values guide everything we do.

A wall of stones in a landscape with grass and some trees

The image of the stone wall is symbolic of our culture and values. In Småland, where Ingvar Kamprad grew up, these stone walls are everywhere, enclosing pastures and fields.

​They are a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of the farmers who, when plowing their fields, encountered these big rocks that only got in the way of their work. So what did they do? By working hard together, they turned them into dykes to separate the land. In this tradition, our values are rooted.


Togetherness is at the heart of our culture. We are strongest when we trust each other, pull in the same direction and have fun together.

Caring for people and planet

We want to be a force for positive change. We have the possibility to make a significant and lasting impact — today and for the generations to come.


As many people as possible should be able to afford a beautiful and functional home. We constantly challenge ourselves and others to make more from less without compromising on quality.


A simple, straightforward and down-to-earth way of being is part of our Smålandic heritage. It is about being ourselves and staying close to reality. We are informal, pragmatic and see bureaucracy as our biggest enemy.

Renew and improve

We are constantly looking for new and better ways forward. Whatever we are doing today, we can do better tomorrow. Finding solutions to almost impossible challenges is part of our success and a source of inspiration to move on to the next challenge.

Different with a meaning

We are not like other companies and we don’t want to be. We like to question existing solutions, think in unconventional ways, experiment and dare to make mistakes – always for a good reason.

Give and take responsibility

We believe in empowering people. Giving and taking responsibility are ways to grow and develop as individuals. Trusting each other, being positive and forward-looking inspires everyone to contribute to development.

Lead by example

We see leadership as an action, not a position. We look for people’s values before competence and experience. People who ‘walk the talk’ and lead by example. It is about being our best self and bringing out the best in each other.