by Tom Bosschaert

Nov. 23, 2020

Tom Bosschaert

The IKEA Foundation's Agricultural Livelihoods Team works on new strategies to utilize the foundation's grants to boost the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in central Africa and India. We worked with the foundation to create a new strategy, using systems thinking and long term impact analysis at its core. In cocreation workshops, we utilized SiD's system mapping tools to identify areas of leverage and impact when grantmaking. Together, we developed new mapping tools and a strategic framework to help support the team with tangible and flexible steps, to channel the complexity of agricultural livelihoods into clear and decisive actions with sustained impact.

IKEA Foundation Farmer

Tasked with supporting the team, Except utilized a systems-based approach to explore how we could improve decision-making at the IKEA Foundation. We first introduced them to Symbiosis in Development (SiD), our unique systems-thinking framework, and then planned and implemendt two co-creation sessions.

Based on the results of these sessions, our team developed a framework for systemic grantmaking designed to be driven from either a local or global, top-down or bottom-up, but inherently community-based perspective.


The strategy was initiated by creating system maps of smallholders and communities at the center of their program and a framework for the team to develop and execute an adaptive and systemic grantmaking strategy.

Collectively, these tools support a vast range of different approaches needed when trying to understand and further develop the complex system within which the Agricultural Livelihoods team is operating.

The team developed additional communication materials and diagrams to help the Agricultural Livelihoods team better explain and align their internal and external strategies.

The tools that emerged from these workshops are crucial to helping the team better understand and improve the IKEA Foundation's vitally important and strategic funding decisions.

20-017 IKEA fnd_Strategy Co-Creation Summary Report_V1.9-13.png
An example of The IKEA Foundation's farmer-level system diagram.

Systemic grantmaking is an emerging trend. Pioneers in the field, like the IKEA Foundation and the Agricultural Livelihoods team, are working tirelessly to promote and develop it even further.

By growing their understanding of systems thinking and its tools and using these to identify themes and enhance partnerships, they are well-positioned as an emergent market leader.   

Follow this link if you'd like to read more about Except's unique systemic investment services.

Nov. 23, 2020

Client & Partners

Project team

  • Tom Bosschaert


  • Rebecca Sampson

    Strategy & Partnerships

  • Mattia Miccichè

    Content specialist

  • Emma Westerduin

    Architect and Project Manager

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