A new loan agreement was signed between Aurora and Grassroot Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM) in Freetown on 2nd June 2016. The goal of this new agreement is to support individuals and SME´s and at the same time support development in Sierra Leone.
The loan amount is USD 100,000 and the agreement is for two years. GGEM will use this amount to give microcredit to individuals and SME´s in Sierra Leone. The focus of this project will be to support the fishing communities in Goderich, Tombo and Shenge, where Aurora is already working. But Aurora is running fish landing sites in these communities through the fishing company Neptune (www.neptune.sl), as well as supporting other smaller projects in these communities. This is the second agreement Aurora signs with GGEM, the previous one was signed in November 2014 and was also for two years. Thousands of individuals and SME´s have already benefitted from that previous agreement.
Mary Roberts is one of the micro- entrepreneurs who received a loan from GGEM (Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement) through the funding of Aurora Foundation. Mary obtained an SLL 3 Million loan in January 2015 to increase her stocks of Africana traditional clothing which she sells from her shop in Freetown. She has already paid back most of the loan granted and is thankful for the opportunity to expand her business.
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.