After two weeks of soft launch mini-events and an energetic social media campaign, the moment had finally arrived to launch the Embassy’s newest initiative for women entrepreneurs, Aurora. In anticipation of the official unveiling, the Ambassador’s residence was packed and buzzing with excitement. Ministers, ambassadors, entrepreneurs, educators, exchange alumni and students from throughout Croatia gathered to celebrate the occasion, learn about the online platform, and network.
Aurora is an online platform that collects opportunities available to women who want to start a business, women who already have a business and want to grow it, and established women who want to share their expertise. The site not only connects people but also has the ability to tailor resources to users’ needs.
Although women in Croatia are well-represented in education and the general workforce, they are still lagging behind in leadership positions, both in the public and private sector, and in STEM fields. Opportunities for women entrepreneurs are growing but are still accessible mostly to those who are well-connected. As a way to address these challenges, the Embassy convened a passionate and enthusiastic group of women in business and entrepreneurship for several brainstorming sessions, and the idea for the Aurora project was born.
After six months of development, Aurora was ready for its big debut. Shortly after 7:00 pm on October 18, Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes opened the evening and explained the Embassy’s motivation for Aurora. Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalić voiced the Croatian government’s support for the initiative. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elisabeth Millard shared the Department of State’s wider goals for supporting entrepreneurship globally and congratulated the project team for the project’s affiliation to this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).
After a demo of the website by the Embassy’s local partner, Impact Hub, Ambassador Noyes invited guests to try out the site on their mobile phones or the computers set up nearby. In the spirit of creating new connections, she encouraged guests to meet someone new and take a selfie and post it online with the hashtag, #Aurorahr. The resulting posts were displayed on the social media wall in the reception room and on the website itself.
An official “Road to GES” event, the launch was part of the lead-up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which the United States will co-host with India in November. Economic growth and vitality, with all members of society participating freely and fairly, is a key foundation for security and stability. Aurora is an important catalyst to help create inclusive networks and empower women in Croatia, and is a perfect fit for this year’s GES theme, Women First, Prosperity for All.
The initiative is part of Embassy’s Zagreb’s long tradition of entrepreneurship programming. The launch of Aurora was only the beginning. Embassy Zagreb and Impact Hub will continue to publicize the site and grow the community through a series of entrepreneurship speaker and training programs throughout the year.
About the Author: Laura Djuragic serves as the Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia.
Editor’s Note: This entry is also published in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.com.
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