Aurora Social Enterprise
The dawn that lights up a community, creating new hope for indigenous people to escape poverty.
Enterprise/business philosophy and objectives of the founder
Many of Taiwan’s indigenous communities are facing serious economic and environmental problems and a lack of local work opportunities, leaving them to fall into a vicious cycle of brain drain and poverty. In 2008, Chen Yazhen, Wang Pengchao, Li Zhiqiang and Lu Peijuan founded the Aurora Social Enterprise using the concepts of fair trade and organic agriculture to establish supply chains for local small-scale farmers to sell their produce. The project aims to improve indigenous livelihoods and promote community self-reliance and sustainable development.
History of development/business model
Aurora’s predecessor was Fu Jen University’s Aboriginal Project Office, led by James Vyathappan, an Indian priest. In 2005, the NPO “Manna Organic Culture and Living Association” was established to provide assistance to Alishan indigenous farmers in developing organic farming. In 2008, after the founding of Aurora Social Enterprise, Manna became responsible for production-side education and training and Aurora for sales channels and marketing.
Manna instructs indigenous farmers on how to convert food waste into organic fertiliser to restore soil fertility, as well as assists them in establishing organic farming mechanisms, while Aurora uses the “guaranteed-price purchasing” method of cooperation to purchase products from producers. Sharing the risk of crop conversion, a uniform price is used to buy from cooperating farmers for the first two years, regardless of the crop quality and season. After acquiring crops from farmers, Aurora supplies agricultural products to mid-market distributors or retailers to make a profit, before allocating the profit to promoting the education of indigenous communities and agricultural development.
Creating social value/mitigating social problems
By helping indigenous small-scale farmers with the establishment of a production and sales network, Aurora has created a value chain of organic agriculture that links indigenous producers with consumers, which not only creates indigenous employment opportunities, but also introduces the fair trade concept and gives farmers a reasonable return. It is expected that this mode of operation will be replicated in other indigenous communities in the future to help more people escape poverty. The establishment of an indigenous smallholder production network has created job opportunities within indigenous communities, helped people out of poverty and attracted young people to return to their indigenous cultural heritage.