Social enterprise and social entrepreneurship have a long and proud history in Scotland, and over the last decade the movement has enjoyed growing levels of political and economic support. Social enterprise is increasingly seen as an important partner in our economy, in civic society and in the delivery of public services.
As Scotland’s second largest retailer, at Asda we are determined to use our scale and reach to drive meaningful, sustainable social change in the communities we serve. That’s why we invest the proceeds of the Scottish carrier bag charge with Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to help social entrepreneurs who could otherwise find it difficult to access funding.
Through the Asda fund, worth around £700,000 every year, investment capital of between £10,000 and £50,000 is made available for new social enterprises, meeting a gap in the current market for smaller loans. No interest is charged during the first year of investment and thereafter all interest raised is reinvested to support more good causes. It’s the first corporate partnership of its kind anywhere in the UK.
15 Asda loans have been made to date, with at least 63 new jobs on course to have been created by the end of the year as a direct result of this investment. Projects we have helped include a café that provides work and training for long-term unemployed people, a dementia support service and a community sports hub that runs a disability football programme. Following the success of the Scottish programme, we have now replicated the scheme in Wales.
In 2016 we extended our support for the Scottish social enterprise sector by running the first Asda Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy, with the aim of increasing the availability of social enterprise products for ethically-minded consumers on supermarket shelves.
Delivered by experts from Asda and SIS, the Academy brought together 12 Scottish social enterprises for an intensive four-day master class to help them develop skills that enable growth in the large retail market.
The Academy offered practical workshops on managing supplier/retailer relationships, as well as sessions focused on PR, customer behaviour and market trends. The social enterprises will receive ongoing business and access to finance to help them scale up and grow their business.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we are delighted that the Academy already looks set to deliver the first supermarket listing for at least one of the participants – watch this space!
Investing in social entrepreneurs is an innovative way for Asda to ensure that our customers’ money benefits communities and individuals across Scotland for the long term, as well as creating a direct commercial relationship between our corporate responsibility agenda and our business objectives.
By sponsoring this award, we hope to raise awareness of the incredible work being carried out every day by social enterprises the length and breadth of Scotland. We also hope to encourage other businesses – large and small – to consider opening up their supply chains and procurement to the opportunities the sector has to offer.
Asda Social Enterprise of the Year Shortlist
Homes for Good www.homesforgood.org.uk
Street Soccer Scotland www.streetsoccerscotland.org
Street League www.streetleague.co.uk
COPE www.cope.ltd.uk Ingrid Webb
Camphill Blair Drummond www.camphillblairdrummond.org.uk
For more information on the Scottish Business Awards vist www.scottishbusinesswards.co.uk