Social enterprise Supply Shack is re-distributing profits to good causes and helping others do the same

Supply Shack is tucked away in a business park at the back of Bournemouth Airport, Dorset. It sells business supplies, printed stationery, signs and banners, point-of-sale material and branded merchandise. What makes it different to any other printer and stationer is that part of the profits the business makes get re-distributed, at the end of the financial year, to democratically chosen good causes.

This year Supply Shack are supporting Life Education Wessex, who specialise in providing high quality health and drug prevention education to children in the South West, to help ensure they have the knowledge and skills to lead healthier and happier lives. Supply Shack’s previous charity partners are Diverse Abilities Plus, The Butterfly Foundation, Hannah House and Crumbs.

The business represents a joining of minds for co-directors Des Day and Caroline Pope, who are also partners in their personal lives. Caroline has 14 years’ experience in fundraising for a Southampton charity, while Day was a commercial director in a business supplies company. He said: “There was a great synergy between what Caroline’s background and experience was in terms of non-profit and the charity sector and with myself being in the commercial business field so we’ve gelled/merged both of them together to deliver Supply Shack.”

As well as donating profits to charity, Supply Shack are giving back to the local community by taking on and training up apprentices. However the social enterprise is ambitious to achieve more and are currently in the early stages of developing a back to work rehabilitation scheme for ex offenders and those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

The entrepreneurial programme will provide opportunities to people who have been socially excluded, giving them the skills to become self-employed or set up their own mini Supply Shack franchise.

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Day says their vision is of Supply Shack being an umbrella brand for a host of small businesses: “We thought we’d create various corporate divisions which would be My Gift Shack, Design Shack, Print Shack, Office Shack and Sign Shack and then we’re going to no doubt build on more shacks and employ more staff. We are currently talking with other businesses to bring them on board with us, they’ll have certain skill sets they can bring and add value to the company as well and certain types of equipment which will lend massive value to where the business is going. The important thing for us from a commercial point of view is to scale the business and the bigger we get the more sustainable we can become which means the more we can give back.”

This article was written by David Cousens while taking part in the Big Issue online journalism programme with Poached Creative. To find out more visit their website.

Photo credit: © Supply Shack. PIc. Helen Hanbury