The voice for Social Enterprises & Social Entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland. Connecting, supporting, developing and sustaining vibrant businesses to create social change.


Local Social Enterprises are First to Participate in Development Academy - ASDA

Wee Choco (Moneyreagh) and Itty Bitty Book Company (Lisburn) are the first two companies from Northern Ireland to take part in Asda’s Social Enterprise Development Academy with the aim of increasing the availability of products for ethically-minded consumers on supermarket shelves.

Delivered in partnership with Social Investment Scotland, the NI companies’ participation is funded by Asda. They will join eight similar social enterprises from Scotland to enhance their understanding of supermarket retailing and refine their commercial and marketing skills.

The initiative builds on the success of Asda’s existing Supplier Development Academy which has boosted trading opportunities for a wide range of food and drink suppliers across Northern Ireland.

The Itty Bitty Book Company , a design and craft company which focuses on promoting positivity, and Wee Choco, which trains people with learning difficulties and autism to make luxury chocolate bars, were nominated to participate by Social Enterprise Northern Ireland.

Both will benefit from grant funding to cover training modules at Asda House in Leeds with topics ranging from consumer purchasing to branding, packaging and design. The NI-based social enterprises will also have access to advice and mentoring from Asda’s senior team. 

Charlotte Cool, Asda’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs said:  “At Asda we take great pride in supporting the communities we serve. We provide a lot of support to local suppliers in Northern Ireland to grow their business, many of whom have introduced their products to our stores across the UK. By harnessing the power of our retail experience and expertise we can also 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 build their business, which in turn could create more jobs, increase investment in local producers and make a positive social impact.


Welcoming the Academy, Colin Jess, Director Social Enterprise Northern Ireland added: “Asda’s commitment to investing in social entrepreneurs is a huge milestone in the development of the social enterprise sector.  

“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.”


Steph Fulton, Director of Wee Choco was full of praise for the Academy: “We’re thrilled to be one of the first NI companies to be part of this initiative. It is an incredibly useful experience both in terms of advice, insight and effective networking;  already we’re feeling inspired and invigorated!”


Astra McNichnoll, owner of Itty Book Company was also very positive: “The first session at Asda House was a real eye-opener. Our business is based on the power of positive thinking for communities and I found the Academy to be very inspiring. It has given me a lot to think about, encouraging me to apply the learnings and take our business to the next level.”



For further information contact Claire Bonner, Morrow Communications Tel: 028 9039 38373