Annual Report 2016

FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

The year 2016 was yet another year of substantial changes for Aurora Foundation. The office in Iceland was closed and a temporary new office was set up in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where majority of current projects are now executed. The equity position of the fund is quite good, although it has diminished over the past couple of years due to slow markets in both Europe and Iceland and the substantial strengthening of the Króna.

Direct contributions to projects in 2016 were somewhat lower then in previous years, despite Aurora supporting 10 different projects during the year. The main reason is that Aurora was an active partner in the execution of some of the projects and thus contributed significantly in kind to these projects as apposed to with direct contribution. In total almost 48m ISK or 420,000USD were donated to 10 different projects, with the majority of these projects outside of Iceland.

The largest contribution was to the Fishing project Neptune which received around 25m ISK (over 220,000 USD). A related project, Sanitary Facilities, which took place in one of the fishing villages where Neptune is working got 1,9 m ISK or just under 17,000USD and one of the micro credit facilities that Aurora has been working with got a further funding, with the new funding aimed at targeting microcredit to the fishing villages.

Three other projects outside of Iceland also got a contribution, all of them in West Africa. Aurora in partnership with SAMSKIP and later also Arion Bank, and a Sierra Leonean IT company Idt labs held computer training courses in Sierra Leone and donated computers to the student at the end of the courses, Aurora also donated computers and other equipment to the University in Sierra Leone and to a small NGO. The final project Aurora supported in Sierra Leone in 2016 was a research for a project hopefully starting in full in 2017, but whit that project Aurora hopes to be able to build a bridge between designers in Iceland and Sierra Leone and assist local arts and crafts makers to improve the quality of their products and to market them abroad. Towards the end of the year, Aurora also supported a small project in Togo, which was aimed at improving sewing skills and techniques of a small sewing company in Togo attached to a local orphanage. The sewing company has been financing the orphanage by sewing clothes and other items that have been sold in Iceland.

Other contributions by Aurora in 2016 went to projects in Iceland. Kraumur, the Music Fund, got its last contribution as the fund was officially closed towards the end of the year. Neistinn and Kraftur, two Icelandic charities got funding in July when Aurora supported a larger collection for these two charities. And lastly a study was done on the feasibility of building a restaurant in the vicinity of one of the Icelandic prisons – with the aim for the prisoners to be able to study cooking, servicing and so forth, to stand a better chance once they are out of the facilities to make their living.

Some changes were in the Board of Aurora at the beginning of the year, but Aurora had applied some time ago to change the number of board members from five to four, and were of the understanding that this had been approved. However, this change was never approved and a letter of rejection was submitted to the Foundation late in 2015, hence, the board needed to add an additional board member. Ómar Berg Torfason was elected as an additional board member in January 2016 at an extra Annual board meeting held on January 23rd.

I want to thank my fellow board members, the executive director of Aurora and the outgoing board members of the daughter funds of Aurora for a good cooperation in the year 2016.

Ólafur Ólafsson

 

ACTIVITES DURING THE YEAR 2016

Board meetings

The Board of Aurora held nine board meetings during the year, in addition an extra Annual Board meeting was held on January 23rd, the Annual Board meeting was held on 17th of May and a strategic planning session was held on 28-29th of August.

Board & employers

At the annual board meeting on 17th of May the board was re-elected and thus the board is set up of the following individuals:

  • Ólafur Ólafsson, one of two founders of Aurora
  • Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir, landscape architect and one of two founders of Aurora
  • Birta Ólafsdóttir, BA in entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Stefán Ingi Stefánsson, head of social responsibility and fundraising at UNICEF regional office in Panama.
  • Ómar Berg Torfason, M.Sc. degree in Data Mining and Knowledge Management

President of the board is Ólafur Ólafsson 

The Fund has its permanent residency at 7-15 Kjalarvogur, 104 Reykjavik.

The Executive Director handles all the day to day business of the Fund but Bruellan Wealth Management in Swiss handles the financial management of the Fund to a large extend, whilst Róbert Aron Róbertsson an employee of the founders in Swiss gives professional advise regarding investments in Iceland. The Payroll office of Samskipa handles wage calculations and all accounting activities are done by Festing hf. Aurora wants to thank all of the individuals behind these support for their important contribution to the operation of the fund. 

The Fund Finances

It didn´t boad well in financial markets in 2016, neither in Iceland nor abroad. In Iceland the stock market closed down 5% for the year, whilst in Europe, where most of Aurora´s stocks are located, closed at around zero for the year. At the same time the Icelandic Króna strengthened significantly during the year, which results in a somewhat contraction in the fund during the year, measured in Icelandic króna.

Assets at the end of the year 2016 were 1.182.842.359 kr. and decreased during the year by 223.506.457 kr. Contribution to projects during the year amounted to 46.397.693 kr. Operational cost of the fund was 50.331.072 kr. for the year 2016. After allowing for contributions to projects and operational cost and taxes, the return on the fund was negative by 9,3%, which is a substantial negative turnaround from already a slow growth of 4,7% last year. It is not all only due to negative returns in markets, but also due to the fact that the Icelandic króna strengthened by almost 16% during the year, and with the fund measured in króna but with the largest assets in foreign currencies also reflects heavily the change in the króna value.

Web page

Aurora has a webpage www.aurorafund.is but there you can find the Charter of the Fund and other information regarding the Fund as well as the daughter funds, Aurora Design Fund and Kraumur the Music Fund and information regarding all projects Aurora has supported through the years. There is also information regarding the board members. Aurora constantly works towards improving the web page and making sure all information regarding the Fund and its projects are easily accessible.

Aurora also operates a Facebook page where all major news are posted as well as an Instagram account where beautiful photos related to Aurora projects can be found.

Donations in 2016

Aurora donated in total almost 48m ISK (420,000USD) to 10 different projects in areas such as education, sanitation, economic activity, culture and humanitarian activities, both in Iceland and in two West African countries, Sierra Leone and Togo. Six of these ten projects are Aurora´s own projects, the others are funded projects.

Donations 2016:

  1. The Fish landing sites in Sierra Leone, Neptune …………………………….kr 24,922,682
  2. Kraumur, The Music Fund ………………………………………………………kr  2,662,354
  3. GGEM, Microcredit facility, Sierra Leone ………………………………………kr  9,870,904
  4. Sanitation Facilities, Sierra Leone……………………………………………..kr  1,916,877
  5. Computer project in Sierra Leone ………………………………………………kr  661,729
  6. Sweet Salone, Design project ………………………………………………….kr  1,545,309
  7. Tau frá Togo ………………………………………………………………………kr  500,000
  8. Neistinn, foundation for children with heart defect ……………………….kr   3,008,000
  9. Kraftur, a support group for young people with Cancer …………………..kr   3,008,000
  10. Áfangar, educational support to prisoners…………………………………….kr  700,000

 

  1. Project Description 
1.1 Own projects
1.1.1 Icelandic projects

Kraumur Music Fund                                                                                                                             kr 2.662.354

Aurora established Kraumur Music Fund in 2008 as an experiment for three years. After successful first years it was decided to get Kraumur funded for further four years. Two different Executive Directors ran the Fund during those seven years but in 2014 it was decided to minimise the fund and the position of Executive Director was terminated. The board of Kraumur took over running of projects. In 2015 Kraumur engaged in few projects led by the President of the Board of Kraumur and in 2016 it got its final contribution from Aurora. Its only project that year was to publish the Kraumur Music List. In addition a new webpage was developed to make sure that all the good work Kraumur has done through the years were well documented. But the year 2016 was the last official year of the Music Fund.

However, some of the legacy work of the Kraumur Music Fund will continue, as a project under Aurora Foundation, such as the Kraumur Music List, which will continue to be published.

Kraumur´s projects during the period of 2008-2016 have been quite substantial but the fund has cooperated with various persons within the music industry in Iceland. During this period over 100 musicians, bands and music related projects have received donation from the fund.

The board of Kraumur has been the same since the middle of 2015, it consist of the following persons:

  • Eldar Ástþórsson, former director of Kraumur Music Fund, president
  • Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir, one of the founders of Aurora Fund, board member
  • Birta Ólafsdóttir, BA in entrepreneurship and innovation , board member

The jury of the Kraumur Music List:

  • Árni Matthíasson, president, journalist at Morgunblaðinu
  • Andrea Jónsdóttir,
  • Anna Ásthidlur Thorsteinsson
  • Alexandra Kjeld,
  • Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen,
  • Benedikt Reynisson
  • Berglind Sunna Stefánsdóttir,
  • Heiða Eiríksdóttir,
  • Helga Þórey Jónsdóttir,
  • Hildur Maral Hamíðsdóttir,
  • Jóhann Ágúst Jóhannsson,
  • Tanya Pollock,
  • Trausti Júlíusson
  • Óli Dóri

Áfangar, educational support to prisoners                                                                                           kr. 700.000

The Board of Aurora was interested to investigate the feasibility of building a restaurant close to one of the prisons in Iceland, where the prisoners could get a formal education in becoming Chefs, Servers, Bakery Servers, Meat processors etc. A feasibility study was conducted on the obstacles, the pros and cons and what institutions would need to be partners in this cooperation. The report is due in 2017.

1.1.2 Foreign projects

Neptune, Fish Landing and Processing Sites, Sierra Leone                                                         kr. 24.922.682

Aurora fund, together with KIMI SARL in Luxembourg and the Government of Sierra Leone, has taken over the operation of four fish landing and processing sites in Sierra Leone. The Public Private Partnership Agreement about the rehabilitation and the operation of these sites were signed in Freetown, Sierra Leone in January 2015 and are for 10 years.

The four fish landing and processing sites were built in 2012 in a cooperation between the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Sierra Leonean government to enhance the fishing industry in the country. Despite good intentions the sites have mostly been standing idle since their construction, mainly due to lack of capacity to run such sites. With this agreement they will be renovated and put in full use. The agreement is cooperation between the private sector, charity and government about development, investment and innovation in the fishing industry in Sierra Leone. This is the first PPP agreement done in Sierra Leone.

Aurora together with its partners established a Sierra Leonean registered company that will handle the operations of the facilities, the company has been named Neptune. The Executive Director of Aurora is on the board of Neptune and the Board is very much involved in daily operations of Neptune. In addition the President of the Board of Aurora gives consultations to the board and the management team of Neptune.

Sanitation facility, Goderich, Sierra Leone                                                                                      kr.   1.916.877

Aurora Foundation is a partner in the operation of the fish landing site in Goderich, on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone. In the early stages of the project, it quickly became clear that substantial local sanitation problems existed with all sewage from the neighbouring community flowing straight through the landing site. In addition, all kinds of litter, even human faeces, were thrown over the walls into the facility.

A lack of latrines in the community is the major problem factor for the fish landing site. Therefore, after consultation with the local community Aurora decided to build eight latrines and four showers in the community as well as to re-direct the sewages alongside the walls of the fish landing site. This dramatically improved the sanitary situation in the fishing community as well as improving hygiene conditions in the fish landing site itself.

Aurora’s grant paid for all materials and labour needed to build the sanitation facilities and to re-direct the sewages.

Computer Project, Sierra Leone                                                                                                             kr. 661.729

Every year, large companies update their computer equipment with newer and faster models to keep up to date with ever-increasing speed and power requirements. However, the out-dated equipment is generally still in good working condition with a considerable lifespan remaining.

One such large company is SAMSKIP, a global logistics company with over 1,400 employees all over the world. They offered to donate a substantial number of used computers and other computer equipment to Aurora for an IT project in Sierra Leone.

Ownership of personal computers is rare in Sierra Leone. Access to computers in general, even for those attending colleges and universities, is limited with very few opportunities for young people to improve their IT skills.

Aurora – in partnership with SAMSKIP and a Sierra Leonean IT company Idt labs – decided to conduct a free ICT training course aimed at young people. The reward for those who completed the training was a computer and a certificate, although the students were not informed about the computer donation until the time of the graduation ceremony.

Over 300 persons applied to participate in the project. The 85 successful applicants sat through a five-day training course, where they received training in Microsoft applications and use of the Internet

As a pilot project it really exceeded all expectations and later in the year Aurora managed to get Arion Bank one of the largest banks in Iceland to donate additional computers so another course could be held. SAMSKIP continued to be a partner and both donated further IT equipment and took care of the transportation of the equipment to Sierra Leone. This time a substantial donation was also done to the University of Sierra Leone as well as to a small NGO that supports young entrepreneurs and young people taking their first steps on their career path.

Sweet Salone Design Project, Sierra Leone                                                                                      kr. 1,545.309

Following the closure of the Aurora Design Fund some ideas how to support designers in other ways sprung up during board meetings of Aurora. As emphasis of the Fund is to support projects in Africa and merely Sierra Leone some ideas started to develop how to connect designers in Iceland with Arts and crafts makers in Sierra Leone.

To start to scope for that project a trip to Sierra Leone was organised where various designers and artists were visited and the art and craft world of Sierra Leone was mapped up. This will be the foundation for further ideas how best to form this project. Work that will continue in 2017.

 

1.2 Funded projects
1.2.1 Icelandic projects

Neistinn, foundation for children with heart defect                                                                         kr. 3,008.000

Every year around seventy Icelandic children are diagnosed with heart defects. About half of them need to have surgery and a third of these operations are performed abroad. Neistinn is a non-profit foundation that supports the families of children with heart defects. Support comes in various forms, such as providing financial or social support or providing information about family rights.

Hrossaraekt.is is an information organization that aims to provide comprehensive information concerning everything related to the Icelandic Horse; both in Iceland and abroad. Once a year they organize a well-attended horse show where raffle tickets are sold and proceeds are donated to a local charity.

In 2016, Hrossaraekt.is approached the Aurora Foundation to gauge interest in joining forces to supporting some local charities. Aurora decided to participate and chose to support Neistinn and another charity, Kraftur; a support group for young people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Aurora donated 5,000,000 ISK at the start of the event and then matched the amount that was raised by the sale of raffle tickets. In total Aurora donated 6,016,000 ISK into the fundraising pool, which was then split between the two charities.

Aurora Foundation’s contribution to Neistinn was dedicated to the memory of Einar Öder a leading rider, trainer and breeder of the Icelandic Horse who contributed greatly to the professionalism and artistry of Icelandic Horsemanship. Einar passed away in 2015.

Kraftur, a support group for young people with Cancer                                                                  kr. 3,008.000

Kraftur is a non-profit foundation supporting young people (aged 18-40) who have been diagnosed with cancer along with their families. The support takes various forms such as providing financial or social support or providing information about the rights of the young people.

Hrossaraekt.is is an information organization that aims to provide comprehensive information concerning everything related to the Icelandic Horse; both in Iceland and abroad. Once a year they organize a well-attended horse show where raffle tickets are sold and proceeds are donated to a local charity.

In 2016, Hrossaraekt.is approached the Aurora Foundation to gauge interest in joining forces to supporting some local charities. Aurora decided to participate and chose to support Kraftur and another charity, Neistinn; a foundation for children with heart defects.

Aurora donated 5,000,000 ISK at the start of the event and then matched the amount that was raised by the sale of raffle tickets. In total Aurora donated 6,016,000 ISK into the fundraising pool, which was then split between the two charities.

Aurora Foundation’s contribution to Kraftur was dedicated to the memory of Einar Öder a leading rider, trainer and breeder of the Icelandic Horse who contributed greatly to the professionalism and artistry of Icelandic Horsemanship. Einar passed away in 2015.

1.1.2 Foreign projects

GGEM, Micro Credit Facility                                                                                                                  kr. 9,870,904

Aurora gave an additional funding to GGEM in the year 2016. That funding was used to set up a new microcredit facility in Goderich, with the aim to service the fishing communities of Goderich, Tombo and Shenge, all communities that Aurora is currently working in. The amount GGEM received in June was 100,000USD. In December however, the first payment was due back from GGEM from the previous funding. The funding was done in Leones hence the loss due to difference in exchange rate is all taken on by Aurora. Therefore, only half of the original amount due, calculated in USD, was paid back, but the full Leones amount. The funding to GGEM in 2016 is showing the net funding for the year.

Tau frá Togo, Togo                                                                                                                                       kr. 500,000

Aurora foundation has been putting greater emphasis on supporting development projects. Newly funded projects have mainly been in Sierra Leone, but Aurora is still supporting projects elsewhere in the world.

Tau frá Tógó is an Icelandic organization that sells clothes and other goods sawed and produced in a sewing workshop, which is a part of an orphanage, run by Syster Victorine in Aného, Togo. All proceeds go back to the orphanage. Tau frá Tógó is Icelandic and means Cloth from Togo.

With the funds from Aurora, Tau frá Tógó are sending an Icelandic Fashion Designer, Elva Káradóttir, to guide students in the Sewing Workshop to saw a women´s dress. Helga Björnsson a former Fashion Designer at the fashion house Louis Féraud has designed a women’s dress and Elva will support the production of the dress, by training the students in the Sewing Workshop. Elva has substantial experience in the fashion design industry as she regularly works for the fashion houses Nina Ricci and Chanel.

The sewing workshop is the main income generating facility for the orphanage and some kind of a vocational school for the oldest kids. Tau frá Tógó has been supporting the orphanage by buying various goods they have produces and sell it in Iceland, such as children cloths and shopping bags, and the goods have received great attention.

Project like this that Aurora is supporting will give the students an important training and will augment their capabilities. The students will get a greater understanding of the whole production process, from receiving the design to supplying a fully produced dress. Further to this they will also get some experience in exporting goods, what procedures to follow etc.