Uist Wool Ltd, a community benefit society in Grimsay on the Isle of North Uist, has received a generous loan of £50,000 from Asda and Social Investment Scotland (SIS) to develop a new spinning mill.
The investment has been made through the unique partnership between Asda and SIS, following the supermarket chain’s continued commitment to donate funds from the 5p carrier bag charge to innovative social enterprises and community projects across Scotland.
Although the new mill is partially open, it will not be fully operational until April next year, when the society expects a rush of visitors to the new facility.
The £50,000 loan is being used to complete and further develop the mill and to cover revenue costs until a steady income stream is established.
Uist Wool Ltd has already received the backing of the local community, who together have raised more than £1m in public funds to purchase the site and start construction on the mill.
By working in partnership with SIS and Asda, receiving the full support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Coastal Communities, Uist Wool Ltd. have developed into fully fledged social enterprise that will bring benefits to all in the community.
Founded by Dana Macphee, the new mill which is located at Scotvein in Grimsay, will be a welcome boost to the rich textile heritage of the Western Isles and economy.
Not only will it support generational traditions and revitalise a declining industry, it will also supply premium, unique and unusual wool made from local sheep fleece to weavers, craftspeople, and visitors - providing a boost to the local economy in the process.
Asda’s Community Capital Fund provides investment capital of between £10,000 and £50,000 for social enterprises who otherwise would find it difficult to access funding.
No interest is charged during the first year of investment and from the second year, all interest raised on the Community Capital loans is reinvested to support more good causes, delivering sustainable social impact in communities across Scotland.
Kevin McBride, VP for Asda Scotland commented: “Since the introduction of the carrier bag charge, we have been leading the way in providing innovative avenues of funding for Scottish local enterprises, ensuring that our customers’ money is continually and responsibly reinvested in communities.
“The new spinning mill and wool centre on the Isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides is a fantastic example of the type of project we aim to support and together we can deliver long-term positive benefits for Scotland.”
Dana MacPhee, from Uist Wool Ltd, added: “This loan from Asda will make a huge difference to the local community. We have already filled seven positions in our new mill and we will be opening to tourists from next year.
“We run mostly heritage spinning machinery and we think people will really enjoy seeing the production process.
“Without this boost in funding, we wouldn’t be able to expand and have the ability to showcase our fantastic local wool to the public.”
CEO of Social Investment Scotland, Alastair Davis, added: “Scotland’s third sector has an increasingly crucial role to play in fostering thriving communities through local job creation, community engagement and economic development.
“The support from Asda’s Community Capital fund has enabled us to provide capital to social enterprises who might have previously struggled to gain funding. As a result of the fund we’ve connected more capital with communities, making a real, measurable and sustainable impact on people’s lives.”