The Aurora Foundation on Monday 17th November 2014 signed loan agreements with two microfinance companies – Grassroot Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM) and A Call to Business – operating in Sierra Leone. Photo of Olafur with his team and the microfinance institutions after signing the loan agreements.
Chairperson of Aurora Ólafur Ólafsson said that the objective of the project is to support small businesses and promote sustainable economic development. He stated that both companies will be loaned $200,000 dollars each with nine percent interest rates, which they will in turn loan to sustainable small and medium enterprises nationwide. Olafur also expressed that he looks forward to seeing the impact of the support on the lives of beneficiaries of the loan facility.
Managing Director of A Call to Business’ Microfinance David Kamara expressed gratitude to Aurora for coming to Sierra Lone at a time when most investors are pulling out. He said that his company is pleased about the initiative as they have been looking out for a sustainable intervention for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Sierra Leone. He added that micro financing SMEs is a right course for providers of financial services as there are lots of opportunities available in that sector which need financial support. David guaranteed ‘A Call to Business’ commitment to ensuring that the funds provided by Aurora will be used for its intended purpose and yields the desired dividend.
Photo of Olafur with the Executive Director and Board Chair of Grassroot Gender Empowerment Movement
Executive Director GGEM Michael Kamara said that microfinance is vital for the economic development of any country as it improves the value chain of the commercial industry, improves the livelihood of people and creates a ripple effect. He assured Aurora that its support is in no way misplaced as the provided funds will be utilized in a way that will produce a maximum impact in the lives of entrepreneurs of small and medium sized business and improve the Sierra Leonean economy.
Photo of Olafur with the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of A Call to Business
The execution of the contract and quarterly follow-up will be monitored by AYANI a financial sector consultant in Sierra Leone on behalf of Aurora, to ensure that the funds are efficiently managed and create the desire impact in the lives of entrepreneurs, status of small and medium enterprises and the nation’s economy in general.
It is worthy to note that one of the main challenges small and medium enterprises in Sierra Leone face is the access to financial services, especially loan facilities. Even when the facilities are available they are hardly affordable because of the high interest rates and accessibility requirements.
Representatives of the Aurora Foundation paid a courtesy call on the President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at State House based on an invitation from the First Lady, to express their investment plans for fishing industry and the continuation of their charity work in Sierra Leone.
Introducing members of the Aurora team, the First Lady’s representative said that the Foundation has been in Sierra Leone since 2005, and has built 67 schools, trained 270 teachers and established mothers clubs around Kono District. He informed the President that Aurora plans to invest in Sierra Leone using its business wing, through the operation and management of all or some of the fish landing facilities around the country.
The Chairman of the Foundation Olafur Olafsson informed the President that the Foundation through its fisheries company participated in the bidding process for the fish landing sites and won the bids for three of the four sites. He mentioned that the documentation process is still in progress, near completion. He added that the three landing sites will together have about 300 employees with the majority recruited locally. He further stated that local fishermen and employees of the company will be trained in improved fishing and fish handling and proc’essing skills and they will be given access to standard fishing gears to improve their fishing capacity and quality.
President Koroma welcomed the team, expressing his gratitude that they decided to visit his country during this difficult period. He mentioned that he was delighted to know that the Foundation has been in Sierra Leone since 2005, contributing to the transformation of Sierra Leone and improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans through their support to the education sector and now with their future investment plans.The President stated that he was very impressed with the approach of the Foundation, the holistic approach. He added that this is the first group that is combining charity and business, noting that it focuses on sustainability as the business wing will maintain the charity department and at the same time improve the income and business processes of the local people. He apprised that Sierra Leone is blessed with fisheries resources and that even though a lot of people are engaged in fishing activities, they are however not benefitting enough and the impact is not great as a result of archaic fishing and fish processing methods. He ended by wishing the Foundation the best in all their projects and pledging his full support to their projects.</br>
Aurora has formally donated 2000 kilos of medicines and medical supplies for the treatment of Ebola patients to the republic of Sierra Leone through the First Lady Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma.
Donating the items, on Monday the 17th of November, the Chairman of the Foundation Olafur Olafsson said that Aurora understands that the Ebola is a huge problem in Sierra Leone, which requires every support possible. That is why the Foundation is donating the items as its contribution to the fight against Ebola.
He went on to say that we must not put everything on hold because of the health crisis, adding that life needs to continue and what needs to be done should be done, as there will be life after the Ebola has been adequately tackled.
Photo of the Chairman of the Aurora Foundation with the First Lady of SIerra Leone Sia Nyama Koroma
Receiving the donated items, the First Lady said she was extremely pleased that the Foundation decided to come into the country at a time when other people are scaring away. She thanked
Aurora for the donation adding that the items are extreemely helpful in the fight against Ebola.
Photo of Olafur and Paul with some of the donated medical supplies
Aurora Board has decided to put 150 thousand euros in emergency measures to fight the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. The majority of the amount is being used to purchase neccessary medical supplies, including protective clothing, rubber gloves, drugs etc., delivering it to the country and distributing it to hospitals and medical clinics.
Aurora has teamed up with British airline company Hangar 8, which is taking care of the delivery and has already sent the fully loaded plane to Sierra Leone last Thursday. Our chairman Ólafur Ólafsson together with Felix Juterczenka and Steve Schöni went with the plane and are now in Freetown and will be delivering the medical supplies tomorrow at the Ebola Center.