Bio

Economy exists to serve people, not vice versa. It needs to be a driver for a better society. Such an economy is vVibrant and culturally rooted, itsuch an economy can replenish nature and recover the broken links, ignitinge hope and nourishing passion.
It just needs a handful of people who dare to make it work.
The ideas that make the backbone of An entrepreneur and Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, Aurora’s identity didn’t emerge overnight.
Entrepreneur and Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, Aurora Chiste has seen many sides of the story.
From Silicon Valley offices to the artisan workshops in Ghana, she has learned what it takes to make radical changes..
Today, as founder of the ethical fashion brand Maakola as well as the energy company Ray Power Africa, Aurora is working to create a new kind of prosperity.

Redefining wealth, rediscovering beauty

Today, Aurora is the founder of global fashion brand Maakola and the energy company Ray Power Africa, both created to generate a real and tangible impact, while promoting a new idea of wealth at the same time. Although different at first glance— one a global fashion brand and the other an energy solutions provider both companies are designed to trigger a similar market dynamics that is inclusive, fair and restorative, and designed to support the goal of equitable prosperity. Maakola is tapping into a mature industry that is rapidly transforming due to societal demands. The first step is to align thebridge together new social values, a sound business model and the strongeep cultural heritage. Yet another kind of change is also needed. While rooted in Ghana and based on an appreciation of this culture and on the natural world, the brand strives to step beyond the stage of ticking all the sustainability boxes. As a fashion brand, ItMaakola aims to rediscover the indefinable idea of beauty that liesas such beyond the look, feel and material., It also seeks to reflect the subtlea conscious beauty that emerges from stories, from the individuals behind the items, and from the interactions between them. involved and human lives behind the item. It is aA beauty that is a not an attribute, but an aura. choice, not an attribute. When we learn to see and appreciate this beauty, it can help us all evolve together towards a more prosperous, just and respectful society, as well as and a more humane fashion industry. The journey towards a different fashion industry can beginstart with a single consumer making a different choice.

Early years in business

Born in Venice, Italy, Aurora moved to Silicon Valley during her undergraduate studies. On gaining a bachelor’s degree in communication, she started her professional journey at Beintoo, an Italian social gamification platform. Then in San Francisco, California, Aurora played a key role in the early stages of developing the business in the United States, which was eventually sold to Mediaset, the largest commercial broadcaster in Italy.
The experience not only built Aurora’s resilience, but also sharpened her interest in business development and change. Additionally, she also began to question the value produced by startups and corporations alike. Growth and innovation were certainly exciting, but did they contribute to the things that actually mattered? Did they help build the world she wanted to live in?
In Silicon Valley, Aurora had seen at first hand how technology can advance industries and shape people’s choices. She also learned—through communities of entrepreneurs such as The Glint, and 500 Startups —how innovation finds roots in a specific culture. It was an insight that led her to the next venture.

Bridging the innovation gap

In 2012, while still in San Francisco, Aurora founded the nonprofit Hack for Big Choices. Bringing together tech, innovation and communities, the company was intended to bridge the innovation gap, using the power of entrepreneurship to overcome the development barriers by supporting grassroots initiatives. Working with partners including Facebook, WordPress and Luxottica, as well as with government agencies, Hack for Big Choices operated in grassroots communities in Mexico, Columbia, San Domingo, and Ghana, where together with her team Aurora organized the largest hackathon in Africa in 2015. Empowering 550 young talents to overcome local challenges through innovative products, the hackathons also helped to launch 48 startups worldwide. Meanwhile, In the same year, Aurora became a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum

Learning to make a real difference

Seeking change, and thirsty for discovery, in 2015 Aurora found herself based in Ghana. Here, she became an advisor at Impact Hub Accra, and a year later, she co-launched the Health Innovation Center in the city. This was the first time she realized the limits of capacity building. Despite the desire to innovate and generate solutions in Ghana—one of the fastest-growing economies in the world—Aurora saw new businesses closing before they could break even. The region was lacking the basic infrastructure for business development and there was only so much a non-profit could do. Silicon Valley had taught her that innovation can result in several cycles of failures and reiterations, and that success comes from a cumulative process of learning and investing. And so, when new challenges led her to re-evaluate her nonprofit expectations, Aurora set about finding an alternative path. Knowing that one person alone couldn’t change everything, but believing that a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem was urgently needed, Aurora decided to help build one. Her next step was to join BlueSPACE Africa, which provides financial technology integration. Through this organization, Aurora dedicated herself to helping small and medium businesses (SMEs) develop new financial solutions and facilitate inclusion and trade. Although Aurora soon realised that data infrastructure was fundamental to driving business and innovation; Ghana clearly lacked such tools. In response, she launched a spinoff of Orb Intelligence—a San Francisco-based firmographic data provider—to bridge this gap. Orb Intelligence, later acquired by Dan & Bradstreet, had a database with over 100 million businesses, but only a small fraction of them were African. So she set about building a B2B database for Ghanai, starting with healthcare facilities, to integrate into the Orb Intelligence platform. And while this was too early a move for the market, the experience helped Aurora todefine her next steps.

Refiningbeauty while expanding solar energy

It was during this period of change and innovation in 2015 that Aurora founded Maakola as a side project. She was growing and empowering an entire community, but nothing in the closet matched her values and personality. Could Ghanian tailors have something to offer? Yes, they did! She thoroughly enjoyed the work process and loved the clothing they made together! A single new item, custom-made to fit her needs, refined Aurora’s perception of beauty;, shifting the focus from the appearance to the experience. Shortly after, Maakola moved up in Aurora’s priority list to become an ethically produced, woman-empowered and responsible business with an ambition to redefine the very foundations of fashion. In 2018 Aurora brought together everything she’d learned to launch Ray Power Africa. The company would use energy as a driver of change through business model experimentation and by developing the market for such essential services. The company uses off-grid solar home systems and water pumps to create distributed networks of electricity that facilitate the beneficial transition to renewable energy; thereby mitigating climate change and providing accessible digital services, electricity and connectivity at the same time

Working with communities

To create impact at the local level and meaningfully support local communities of changemakers, Aurora also serves as an advisor to Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area. Using its global connections, the Hub currently focuses on advancing action to reach the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-pandemic world through programs designed to help impactful ideas take off. Aurora works closely with the leadership team to build capacity and identify entrepreneurs’ needs while ensuring effective fundraising and making revenue models that contribute to a truly green recovery.

Highlights

– Founded Hack for Big Choices, a nonprofit that harnessed entrepreneurship to tackle the issues hampering development (2012)

– Organized Africa’s biggest hackathon in Accra, Ghana (2015)

– Founded global fashion brand Maakola (2015)

– Founded in Ghana energy company Ray Power Africa (2018)

– Became a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum (2015)

– Advisor to Impact Hub Accra and Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area