Social enterprises in Scotland are getting the chance of a lifetime to get their products into the UK’s biggest supermarket thanks to a £750,000 new scheme.

In what has been called a "game changer" for the sector, Social Investment Scotland (SIS) has teamed up with Asda to launch Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy with admission won via a Dragon’s Den style competition.

The academy, funded by revenue from the carrier bag charge, will support up to eight Scottish social enterprises to strengthen their understanding of supermarket retail and refine their commercial and marketing skills.

Winners are not guaranteed to get a place on Asda’s shelves but will significantly improve their prospects by getting the chance to work with the supermarket’s buyers.

From today until 12pm on 14 March, product based social enterprises will be able to apply for a coveted place within the academy.

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

Following a shortlisting process carried out by both Asda and SIS, a number of social enterprises will be invited for interview by a panel in the Dragon’s Den style pitch format for the final eight places.

The successful social enterprises will benefit from both grant funding to cover their participation and specially developed training modules delivered over three 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.

Alastair Davis, chief executive of SIS, said the supermarket tie up could be a game-changer for social enterprises.

He said: “Asda’s commitment to investing in Scotland’s social entrepreneurs is a huge milestone in the development of the social enterprise sector. We’re delighted to be chosen as their sole partner in helping them deliver this goal.

“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.”

Depending on the success of the Scottish programme, SIS and Asda hope to roll out the academy across England and Wales in the coming months.

Allan Miller, Asda’s senior director for Scotland, said: “Our partnership with SIS represents an exciting move beyond traditional grant-making programmes, providing tangible benefits for people across Scotland.

“By harnessing the power of our retail experience and expertise, along with our 615-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.”

Any social enterprises wishing to take part should register their interest at

Source: Third Force News

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