Three Edinburgh social enterprises head to Asda HQ for retail ‘therapy’

The Justice Brand, Punjabi Junction and Ginerosity could land a chance to supply to supermarket stores nationwide 

Three Edinburgh-born social enterprises have been selected to take part in Asda’s Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy to learn more about the retail industry and for a chance of getting their products stocked in supermarkets nationwide.
The Justice Brand, Punjabi Junction, and Ginerosity are among eight Scottish social enterprises starting the second Asda Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy tomorrow (Tuesday, 6 June) in a bid to secure national listings which could boost their social impacts.
The Academy, which has been developed in partnership with Social Investment Scotland (SIS), is the first of its kind in the UK and has been designed to increase the availability of social enterprise products for ethically minded consumers on supermarket shelves.
It’s funded from the proceeds of Asda’s carrier bag charge in Scotland (totalling around £1 million) and, this year, runs between 6 and 9 June at Asda’s HQ in Leeds.
Since the inaugural Academy took place last year, both Brewgooder and Heroes Drinks have received national listings with Asda – significantly increasing the size and scale of their operations and allowing them to create deeper, more sustainable social impacts.
Twelve months on and Asda says the second Academy looks set to be equally impactful, with 25 participants making their way to Asda House in Leeds.
Over the next three days, the 2017 Scottish cohort, along with 17 social enterprises from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will receive a unique training programme designed to strengthen their understanding of supermarket retail and refine their commercial and marketing skills.
The budding social entrepreneurs will benefit from both grant funding to cover their participation and specially developed training modules delivered by Asda.
The course will include everything from understanding consumer purchasing to branding and packaging design, while participants will also receive access to mentoring provided by Asda’s senior team and to finance through social investment loans from SIS.
The Justice Brand, which is based in Edinburgh’s Salamander Street, sells a range of pouches, bags and accessories to help support women affected by prostitution, human trafficking and sexual abuse.
As one of this cohort, the organisation will be joined by fellow Edinburgh social enterprise Punjabi Junction which is a community cafe specialising in Punjabi cuisine in the heart of Leith. It provides opportunities, social inclusion and support to women from the Capital’s ethnic minority background.
Joining the Edinburgh pair is Ginerosity, a social enterprise gin based at Summerhall whose profits are poured back into projects to help disadvantaged young adults here and abroad.
The other five social enterprises to join them from Scotland are Bala Sport, which supplies Fairtrade-certified footballs; MBikudi, a hair and beauty product specialist tackling social isolation; Silver Stag, selling unique Scottish gifts to benefit disadvantaged people; Social Stuff Ltd, which sells official football and rugby supporter snoods in aid of good causes, and Feel the Warmth, selling high-performance heated wearables.
The programme – consisting of both the Academy and SIS Community Capital – supports a growing number of social enterprises to sell products directly to members of the general public.
SIS says that 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 equip them with the tools to secure deals with other retailers.
Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland, said: “The Academy is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of these social enterprises to gain invaluable knowledge of the retail market from the best in the business. We’ve seen the benefits of this Academy at first hand, not just through the two social enterprises who secured listings with Asda, but also through last year’s other attendees who have used the experience to significantly refine, develop and build their businesses.
“There’s a huge opportunity here for the Academy participants to position their products as attractive alternatives to commercial brands, increase their revenues and, in turn, create much more sustainable and long term social impacts for our communities up and down the country.”
Since launching Asda Community Capital last year, the fund has distributed over £829,000 in loans to 24 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.
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