Ingvar Kamprad: From Street Vendor to the Richest in Europe

In the profusion of towering odds, while most give up, there are a very few who stand unyielding. And all difficulties bow down to their courage and determination. Ingvar Kamprad, one of the richest industrialists and founder of IKEA, is one of them. Born on 30th March 1926, in Pjätteryd of Älmhult Municipality of Sweden, he is a second generation immigrant from Germany. In the midst of scarcity, he started his early life selling match box to his neighbors. From the profit he expanded his business to selling fish, seeds and Christmas tree decoration items and gradually extended to arrays of goods, pencil and ballpoint pens.

When he was only 17 years old, he made an expedition where he applied himself with much diligence to establish IKEA in 1943. IKEA is the acronym of his name Ingvar Kamprad and his birth place Elmtaryd and nearby village Agunnaryd. Initially, IKEA focused mostly on selling small household items such as pencil, notebooks, wallets, picture frames, lighters, cheap jewelries etc. Kampard would offer people huge discounts on market price and, since he’d buy the items directly from the manufacturers, still make a lot of profit. For the next two years, he would manage everything on his own—from making sales calls to visiting manufacturers, buying items, and delivering them door to door. In 1945, he started advertising his business in local news papers and rented a milk truck to deliver his goods. Inspired by his success, in 1947, Kampard ventured into furniture business. In the next four years, one by one, he removed all products from his catalog and started focusing on furniture market. In 1953, he opened his first showroom in Almhult and allowed consumers to see and experience furniture prior to purchasing.

Kampard’s quick success got him so many enemies and they prevented the manufacturers from supplying him readymade furniture. With surmounting pressure from competitors, Kampard finally decided to start his own manufacturing unit. The next, what he initiated, changed the entire face of furniture industry. He offered people hundreds of designs to choose from and assemble them at home. This enabled him to deliver furniture directly from the manufacturing units to the consumers’ households saving him a lot of storage and shipping cost. IKEA furniture were cheaper, trendy and came with a warranty period. In 1965, Kampard started his first consumer retail warehouse in Stockholm which occupied an impressive 45,800 square feet space. Today, with over 115 stores, IKEA has its strong presence in 25 countries worldwide and employs about 127,000 people. The company makes close to 15 billion in sales annually.

In 1994, he reveled that he’d attended some pro-Nazi meetings which he regretted till date. In addition, he also sincerely regrets over the circumstances that emphasized his being an alcoholic at the early stage of life.

Philanthropic work: In May 2006, as reported by The Economist, Kampard founded Stichting Anka Foundation and donated $36 billion. The foundation is dedicated to funding architectural and Interior design research work.


‘You can do so much in 10 minutes’ time. Ten minutes, once gone, are gone for good.. Divide your life into 10-minute units and sacrifice as few of them as possible in meaningless activity’ Ingvar Kamprad.

“Simplicity and common sense should characterize planning and strategic direction,”

Our idea is to serve everybody, including people with little money.

I’m not afraid of turning 80 and I have lots of things to do. I don’t have time for dying.

We ought to have more women in various management positions, because women are the ones who decide almost everything in the home.

If there is such a thing as good leadership, it is to give a good example. I have to do so for all the Ikea employees.

“I bought seeds for the garden and had great success with it, going around to all the houses in my village. After that year I could buy myself my first bicycle.”

It was our duty to expand. Those who cannot or will not join us are to be pitied. What we want to do, we can do and will do, together. A glorious future!

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