• Asda’s only Social Enterprise Supplier Academy returns following huge success last year
  • Academy will support eight Scottish social enterprises to develop route to market
  • Social Investment Scotland secures almost £1m in carrier bag charge revenues to help fund the Academy and continue small loans programme

Asda has teamed up with Social Investment Scotland (SIS) for a second year running to host the Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy, with the aim of further increasing the availability of social enterprise products for ethically-minded consumers on supermarket shelves.

Funded through the proceeds from Asda’s carrier bag charge in Scotland totalling around £1,000,000, SIS will help Asda run the programme whilst continuing to provide small loans through SIS Community Capital, the fund set up in partnership with Asda in 2015.

The Academy will support Scottish social enterprises to strengthen their understanding of supermarket retail and refine their commercial and marketing skills, building on the success of Asda’s existing supplier development academy to support Scottish SMEs.

The successful eight social enterprises chosen to attend this year’s academy include: Bala Sport; Feel the Warmth; Ginerosity, Mbikudi; Punjabi Junction; Silver Stag; Social Stuff/Squad Scarves and The Justice Brand.

Each organisation will benefit from both grant funding to cover their participation and specially developed training modules delivered over 4 days at Asda House in Leeds to include everything from understanding consumer purchasing to branding and packaging design.

Participants will receive access to mentoring provided by Asda’s senior team and to finance through social investment loans from SIS as well as insights from guest speakers including Michael Sheen.

Asda’s partnership with Social Investment Scotland represents a significant commitment by the retailer to develop the UK’s social enterprise sector and create a long term sustainable impact within communities across the country.

The programme – consisting of both the Academy and SIS Community Capital - will support a growing number of social enterprises to sell products directly to members of the general public. While there are no guarantees that Academy participants will receive a listing with Asda, the skills and support delivered through the Academy will significantly improve their prospects and, more importantly, equip them with the tools to secure deals with other retailers.

Since launching SIS Community Capital two years ago, the fund has distributed over £829,000 in loans to twenty-four local charities and community projects across Scotland. The most recent organisations to benefit from this investment include Aspire Community Solutions, Bothy Stores and Dot Coach CIC.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, said: “Social enterprises do tremendous work to help the most vulnerable people by improving their confidence and boosting skills, while tackling inequalities in society and growing the economy.

“I am pleased to see that the money raised through the carrier bag charge is being used to fund this Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy for the second year – it was a great success last year.

“This is an exciting project for social enterprises in Scotland and one which will help the expansion and development of the sector. I commend Asda and Social Investment Scotland for their foresight and work on this important initiative.

“I am keen to hear more about the academy as it continues to develop and look forward to hearing about the work it will do in opening up more opportunities for social enterprises to grow and expand.”

Charlotte Cool, Asda’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs, said: “At Asda we take great pride in supporting the communities we serve. Our partnership with SIS represents an exciting move beyond traditional grant-making programmes, providing tangible benefits for people across the UK.

“We provide support to local suppliers around the UK to grow their business, many of whom have introduced their products to many Asda stores. By harnessing the power of our retail experience and expertise, along with our 645-strong store estate and online shopping division, we can help social enterprises to access the large retail market.

“The potential benefits are multiple - customers get more choice and social enterprises get the support they need to move from small to medium to large business, which in turn could create more jobs, increase investment in local producers and build positive social impact.”

Nick Kuenssberg, chair, Social Investment Scotland, said: “This current and future undertaking by Asda is a truly significant move. The potential to roll this programme out in England and Wales represents a major development in the size and scope of Social Investment Scotland’s ambition.”

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland, said: “Asda’s commitment to investing in Scotland’s social entrepreneurs is a huge milestone in the development of the social enterprise sector and we’re delighted to be their sole partner in helping them deliver this goal for a second year running.

“Given the breadth of Asda’s footprint across Scotland’s communities, its support in helping to increase the number of social enterprises retailing to the public is a potential game changer.

“By promoting social enterprise products as viable alternatives to their commercial counterparts, we have a fantastic opportunity to significantly increase the revenues raised by the sector and, in turn, create much more sustainable and long term social impacts for our communities up and down the country.”

Michael Sheen, Patron of Social Enterprise UK, said: “It was a huge honour to spend a day being inspired by a room full of social entrepreneurs as part of the Asda and Social Investment Scotland collaboration.

“I attended so that I could listen and learn from people who have real skin in the game in transforming our communities and doing so by getting great products into stores across the UK. I want to be part of helping the general public to become more aware of what social enterprise is, so growing the market for products we can see on our high streets should help spread the word that there is a better way to do business!

“I hope Asda and SIS can continue to build on this partnership and expand across the U.K. And encourage us all to buy social!”

ENDS