2020 in a nutshell!

Looking back on 2020, we can say the year has not been boring! Even though the year did not develop as we all planned, we can definitely look back on an interesting year with many achievements:

January

Starting the year with a bang, we welcomed both Eva María Árnadóttir and Tinna Gunnarsdóttir from the University of Arts in Reykjavik to Sierra Leone. While Tinna was teaching a course for the pottery students at the Lettie Stuart Pottery center in Waterloo, Eva taught a fashion course in sustainability and creativity at our office in Freetown. 

And then they were six! Another employee Makalay Suma joined the Aurora team in Freetown as the Project Coordinator for our Sweet Salone project.

Then, on the 23rd of January, we celebrated Aurora’s birthday with a very exciting event – our office’s official opening in Freetown! Even though we have been operating in this office for a while, we finally got the chance to formally celebrate, especially as one of Aurora´s founders and one of the two designers of our beautiful office Ingibjörg Kristjánsdóttir, was in town!

February

Finally, after a lot of preparations and interviews, the pre-accelerator programme commenced! Seven start-ups joined us at the office in Freetown, where they engaged in interactive sessions and worked together to develop their business ideas.

March

While the pre-accelerator programme continued, we invited guest speakers that shared their stories about doing business in Sierra Leone. We are very grateful for Alexandre Tourre, Henry Henrysson and Ajara Bomah, who donated their time and efforts to inspire the start-ups on different levels. 

March was also a month of big shifts – as COVID-19 developed worldwide, the decision was made to close the office in Freetown and ensure the safety and health of our colleagues. This also meant that we moved our weekly team meetings to a digital space.

April

While working remotely, we acknowledged the (increasing) need to shop online. From there, www.aurorawebshop.com was born! While we have already been selling our goods from our Sweet Salone project in Sierra Leone and Iceland, we can now ship worldwide!

May

To support various initiatives to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone, Aurora donated 2500 face masks, 100 bottles of sanitiser and 100 bottles of hand soap to Grassroot Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM), the microcredit institution that we have been supporting for over 6 years now. The masks were produced by Martha [link], and Aurora´s team in Sierra Leone handed over the donation to GGEM.

June

In line with our projects in the creative sector, Aurora Foundation signed an agreement with Mengi to cooperate over the upcoming years. Mengi is a multi-purpose space in Reykjavik whose purpose is to foster innovation, support grassroots initiatives, and nurture the heritage of creative art.

July

Aurora Foundation signed a contract with the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will co-finance further support to the Lettie Stuart Pottery Centre. With the support, Aurora can have two international potters joining the center for several months in 2021 to provide vital assistance in making the center operate sustainably.

August

Finally, the team was back together! All necessary COVID tests were done and came back negative, which meant we could resume our work in person. We also picked up the pre-accelerator programme after a couple of months of digital updates.

September

A documentary that Aurora supported the making of The Hero´s Journey to the Third Pole, was finally premiered after several delays due to COVID. The film was the opening film of the Reykjavik International Film Festival (RIFF). The film is about living with bipolar disorder and is an exceptionally sensitive and beautiful story. It is a travel story about an unexpected friendship, which opens a discussion of what it means to live with a mental illness. 

We at Aurora are incredibly proud to have been able to support the film’s making and thereby raise awareness of mental illnesses.

October

We had a very proud moment in October as Cohort 1 of the pre-accelerator programme graduated! We amended their graduation to ensure COVID measures could be adhered to, but the start-ups were still able to pitch their businesses to an audience that existed of the previous guest speakers.

Furthermore, Aurora organised its first ICT course since March 2020. With a smaller number of students, we were able to organise a Beginner ICT training with our partner Byte Limited while business was picking up again.

November

While the first cohort graduated, so started a new one! This time, eight start-ups have joined us at the office, where they will be working for the upcoming four months. Interested in the different start-ups? Read more here!

Meanwhile, Aurora and the Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA) signed a new agreement regarding operations at the Lettie Stuart Pottery Centre. This agreement, which will terminate at the end of April 2021, includes, amongst other things, the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland.

Last but not least, Aurora organised their first ‘get ready for Christmas market’ in Freetown! Together with the Lettie Stuart Pottery staff, we sold many items that were created by the artisans we work with in our Sweet Salone project. In light of the holidays, we donated 10% of all sales to the charity Uman Tok.

December

As for the part thirteen years, Aurora presented the Kraumur Music Awards in December, an award given to Icelandic albums that have excelled during the year in terms of quality, ambitions and originality. As the award ceremony could not take place in traditional matters due to COVID measures, it was decided to organise the awards outside in Reykjavik´s main shopping street with one of the artists giving a performance inside a shopping window at the end of the ceremony.

And for 2021? We are very excited to launch a new Ideation program, have new start-ups join us for our third pre-accelerator programme, welcome both Peter and Gudbjorg back in Sierra Leone to work at the Lettie Stuart Pottery, ship the first whole container of Sweet Salone products out of Sierra Leone and and so many more things coming up – it will be a year full of adventure and exciting things! Stay tuned!


New programs at Aurora Impact in 2021!

As we write this post, we are almost halfway through the program with the second Cohort of our pre-accelerator programme! We are very excited to see the number of applicants (and interest) rise for this program, as well as to see the different business ideas that people submit. However, we have also identified a need for another program – a program that offers people the chance to experience and learn about entrepreneurship, for those people that do not necessary already have a business idea in mind.

Therefore, Aurora Foundation will be launching a new program in January 2021. With a four-week ideation program, we aim to familiarize people with entrepreneurship and help them to identify a need in the market, with the goal to spark their interest in entrepreneurship. Twice a week, students will engage in group sessions to discover, test and validate a business idea.

Currently applications are open and people are welcome to apply via the link below. Any questions can be addressed to sr@aurorafoundation.is .


Update Cohort 2

Week 6 of the pre-acceleration program:

  • 8 Start-ups
  • 12 Interactive sessions
  • 3 Pitches performed
  • 2 Guest speakers
  • 1 Crash course

This is part of what has happened in the past six weeks of the pre-acceleration program! The eight start-ups have set goals, talked to their customers, discovered their problem/solution fit and learned about different aspects of setting up their business.

Besides the interactive sessions with Aurora, the cohort had the honour to welcome both Alexandre Tourre and Natalia Abboud, who talked about different topics important when running a successful business.

On the 7th of December, Alexandre Tourre, founder of Easy Solar, talked about the journey of Easy Solar. He also addressed, among other topics, the do’s and don’ts of setting up a business in Sierra Leone, the value of market research, how to position yourself and the importance of pivoting to make sure you address the needs and pain points of your customer.

Natalia Abboud visited on the 8th of December. The CEO of Transnational SL focused on the importance of marketing and how to use marketing tactics to your advantage when starting a company. She furthermore touched upon the importance of collaboration, consumer trends and how to use storytelling in creating your brand.

On the 14th of December, Alfred from Byte Limited engaged the cohort in a full day crash course on using Microsoft Excel. Most of the start-ups did not use Excel before, and during this day the entrepreneurs got a good insight in how to use the basic functions to start budgeting and bookkeeping.

For now, the start-ups are working on their set goals and we will be resuming the sessions on the 4th of January after a well-deserved Christmas break!


Til hamingju Kraumsverðlaunahafar 2020!

GUGUSAR, INGIBJÖRG TURCHI, SALÓME KATRÍN, SKOFFÍN, ULTRAFLEX OG VOLRUPTUS hlutu Karumsverðlaunin árið 2020. Við hjá Auroru velgerðasjóði óskum þeim innilega til hamingju með verðlaunin!

Kraumsverðlaunin voru afhent í þrettánda sinn á Laugaveginum síðdegis sl. fimmtudag. Í stað hefðbundins verðlaunahófs innandyra voru verðlaunin veitt undir berum himni á Laugaveginum í tengslum við tónleikaseríuna Talið í Tónum – Jóladagal sem fer fram í allan desember fram að jólum og fram koma íslenskir listamenn úr öllum áttum, m.a. fjölmargir verðlaunhafar og listamenn sem tilnefndir eru til Kraumsverðlaunanna í ár.

 

Kraumsverðlaunahafinn Salóme Katrín, sem á dögunum gaf út sína fyrstu breiðskífu Water, spilaði á verðlaunafhendingunni.

 

Kraumsverðlaunin eru veitt fyrir þær íslensku hljómplötur sem þykja hafa skarað fram úr á árinu hvað varðar gæði, metnað og frumleika. Meðal þeirra listamanna sem hlotið hafa verðlaunin frá því þau voru fyrst veitt árið 2008 eru Auður, Cell7, Daníel Bjarnason, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Hjaltalín, Lay Low, Mammút, Ólöf Arnalds, Retro Stefson og Sóley.

Dómnefnd verðlaunanna eru  skipuð fólki með margvíslega reynslu af því að fjalla um, spila og vinna með íslenska tónlist í fjölmiðlum og á öðrum vettvangi. Greinilegt er að mikil gróska er í íslensku tónlistarlífi hvað útgáfurstafsemi varðar, enda fór dómnefndin yfir og hlustaði á 439 hljómplötur og útgáfur sem komu út á árinu við val sitt.

Kraumsverðlaunum er ætlað að kynna og styðja við plötuútgáfu íslenskra listamanna og hljómsveita. Verðlaunin eru ekki bundin ákveðinni tónlistarstefnu og þeim fylgja engir undirflokkar. Alls hafa rúmlega sjötíu listamenn og hljómsveitir hlotið verðlaunin fyrir plötur sínar, flestir snemma á ferli sínum.

Við hjá Auroru velgerðarsjóð stöndum að Kraumsverðlaununum.

Kraumsverðlaunanin 2020 hljóta:

  • Gugusar – Listen to this Twice
  • Ingibjörg Turchi – Meliae
  • Salóme Katrín – Water
  • Skoffín – Skoffín hentar íslenskum aðstæðum
  • Ultraflex – Visions of Ultraflex
  • Volruptus – First Contact
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DÓMNEFND 

Kraumslistinn og Kraumsverðlaunin eru valin af níu manna dómnefnd skipuð fólki með margvíslega reynslu af því að fjalla um, spila og vinna með íslenska tónlist í fjölmiðlum og á öðrum vettvangi. Dómnefndina í ár skipa; Árni Matthíasson (formaður), Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, Helga Þórey Jónsdóttir, Lovísa Rut Kristjánsdóttir, Maria Lilja Thrastardottir Kemp, Óli Dóri, Rósa Birgitta Ísfeld, Trausti Júlíusson og Þorbjörg Roach Gunnarsdóttir.