The investment, announced today (21 July), comes as part of an ongoing partnership between Asda and Social Investment Scotland, which provides funding for social enterprises and community groups in the form of social investment.

Asda’s chief merchandising officer for Andrew Moore said: “As the only retailer in the UK to support such an initiative, we are extremely proud to be working with Social Investment Scotland to give local social enterprises the boost they need to grow in a hugely competitive market.

“Social enterprises do tremendous work in local communities, not just in Scotland and Wales but across the whole of the UK, and they need our support. As a retail business, we understand the value of sharing our experience and we will continue to support new entrants. This partnership with Social Investment Scotland allows us to provide support in a very direct way that will hopefully support the sustainable growth of businesses that one day may become suppliers.”

Social enterprises

Asda has been partnered with Social Investment Scotland since October 2014 and has already helped 11 Scottish social enterprises in investing £700k loans through its CSR programmes.

The announcement of funding from the carrier bag charge was made during Asda’s first Social Enterprise Development Academy event. The Academy provided workshops and talks over a four-day programme to representatives from 15 social enterprises.

Social enterprises involved in the inaugural event included Power a Life – a manufacturer and retailer that provides PV panels to Schools in Senegal and the Gambina for every product sold; and Brewgooder – a craft beer label that donates 100% of its profits from its Clean Water Lager to clean water charities.

Commenting on Asda’s CSR initiative, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance said: “Social enterprises play a vital role in the Scottish Government’s drive to tackle inequalities and help grow the economy. That’s why I was delighted to see Asda and Social Investment Scotland come together to launch the Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy.

“The Academy really helped social enterprises learn the skills they need to operate in the increasingly competitive mass retail market and give this vibrant sector a boost so it can continue to thrive.”

Big savings

Many other large retailers are using the proceeds raised from the 5p carrier bag charge to fund various charities and social enterprises. For example, Marks & Spencer has donated half of the proceeds raised from the bag charge to local charities and the other half to established national charities such as Macmillan Cancer Research and the Marine Conservation Society.

The carrier bag charge has seen carrier bag usage drop by as much as 80%, with more than £6.7m raised by retailers for good causes in 2015. Defra announced last year that it was expecting the carrier bag charge to generate roughly £730m for ‘good causes,’ as well as £13m in carbon savings; £60m savings in litter clean-up costs and an overall benefit of over £780m to the UK economy.

Today’s announcement comes less than 24 hours after Asda announced that its customers have saved £57 a year on average by tackling food waste, making it the first UK retailer to prove food waste savings for customers.

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Alex Baldwin

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