• More than £300,000 worth of funds given so far to 10 social enterprises through innovative Asda carrier bag fund
  • 90% fewer bags handed out by Asda stores

Venture Mor Ltd, a community-led non-profit group have received a generous loan of £45,000 from Asda and Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to expand and improve their youth hostelling service and adventure and well-being holidays, thanks to money raised by Asda’s Community Capital Fund through the Scottish Government’s 5p single use carrier bag charge.

The investments have been made through a unique partnership between Asda and Social Investment Scotland (SIS), following the supermarket’s pledge to donate the funds from the bag charge to support innovative social enterprises and community projects across Scotland.

With the support of Asda, Venture Mor is aiming to upgrade the facilities at Hartfield House – their youth hostel premises. There are also plans to create an additional event space in the main building and enhance the quality of the bedrooms within the bunkhouse.

The house is an old hunting lodge set in its own grounds and is proving popular as a wedding venue and space for community events. Venture Mor plans to enhance the grounds by deer fencing the boundary to make the outdoor space more attractive and also creating a kitchen garden to grow their own produce. They also plan to invest in the fabric of the building as keeping it watertight is a real challenge due to weather on the west coast.

The youth hostel offers affordable accommodation in a beautiful part of the world. By creating the hostel and event space, Venture Mor has been able to contribute to the local economy and community by bringing new visitors to the area and also offering local jobs.

Venture Mor Ltd are about to launch a trainee scheme for young adults aged 16-30, not in education, training or employment to gain employability skills in hospitality and the outdoor adventure tourism sectors with the first trainees joining the hostel this spring in readiness for the 2016 season.

Asda’s Community Capital Fund provides investment capital of between £10,000 and £50,000 for social enterprises who otherwise would find it difficult to access funding. No interest is charged during the first year of investment and from the second year, all interest raised on the Community Capital loans is reinvested to support more good causes, delivering sustainable social impact in communities across Scotland. Ten social enterprises in Scotland have already received Asda loans totalling more than £300,000.

Kevin McBride, VP for Asda Scotland commented: “At Asda, we want the carrier bag charge to have long-term social – as well as environmental – benefits. 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.

“Investing in social enterprises is an innovative way for Asda to ensure that our customers’ money, raised through the carrier bag charge, is continually reinvested in communities and delivers long-term positive benefits for Scotland.

“Venture Mor Ltd is a great example of what can be achieved for local communities and we’re so proud to be involved.”

Amelia Morgan, Head of Development at Venture Mor Ltd, commented: “We have a big long-term plan for many of the services that Venture Mor provides but our main focus is on Hartfield House at the moment. We have seen the hugely beneficial impact that our adventure holidays have on the young disadvantaged adults from the local area and further afield.

“This grant will allow us to provide an upgraded and expanded service. I cannot express how thrilled I am that Asda have seen the merit in what our social enterprise does.”

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland, said: “Scotland’s third sector has an increasingly crucial role to play in fostering thriving communities through local job creation, community engagement and economic development.

“The support from Asda’s Community Capital fund has enabled us to provide capital to social enterprises who might have previously struggled to gain funding. Thanks to the fund, we’ve been able to support ten highly motivated, small, community-based enterprises throughout Scotland. As a result of the fund we’ve connected more capital with communities, making a real, measurable and sustainable impact on people's lives.”

Building on the success of the Community Capital fund, Asda and SIS have recently announced plans to deliver the UK’s first Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy. The Academy will help Scottish social enterprises to grow by providing expert advice and insight into supermarket trading disciplines. Participants will benefit from grant funding and a bespoke programme of training and support, including modules covering topics ranging from marketing to supply chain management.

Any social enterprises wishing to take part should register their interest at asdaseacademy.strikingly.com where they can also find further information on the Academy and a more detailed Q&A.