The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) has announced Baobab.law as the Southern Africa winner of its annual Innovating Justice Challenge. The winner was decided at a special pitching event on Tuesday 4 September at Sandton Convention Centre, by a panel of expert judges from the fields of law and innovation.
Baobab.law was founded by Khokela Daula and Guy Stern, and seeks to remove barriers to entry for legal assistance by providing information DIY legal solutions in the form of video tutorials that can speed up process of resolving legal matters. Videos are recorded with professional lawyers and available in multiple local languages.
Judges were impressed with the vision and passion of the co-founders for their start-up, and also with the rapid development of content. The original prototype for Baobab.law was built during Global Legal Hackathon, which took place at the Tshimologong Precinct in February, and was also organised by HiiL.
“Our challenge was to find a solution that would bring access to justice to millions,” says Stern, “A solution that is going to impact millions needs to have a few key ingredients: it needs to be 100% free to use, accessible in many languages on social multiple channels and viral in nature. Video checks all of these boxes.”
As a proof of concept, the team demonstrated their already very active Facebook page which has seen viral growth with over 10,000 video views in the past few weeks and a growing community including the participating firms who share the videos around.
“It’s humbling and overwhelming to see the support the law firms have given us,” added Daula.
The pair say that they have already begun discussing content partnerships and investment opportunities that have arisen as a result of the Innovating Justice Challenge.
Second place in the regional finals went to Zimbabwe’s PhoenixCMS, a low-cost case management service, designed to help human rights organisations track important information and improve reporting of rights abuses around the country. In third place, Masenze Strategic Advisors is a Gauteng rights awareness platform working on innovative ways to improve legal education for underserved communities.
Judges also gave a special mention to Buyisa Soul and Spiritual Centre from Alexandra, a group of traditional healers who currently run regular mediation and dispute resolution courts within the township and are looking to scale their work into other geographical areas.
“All of our finalists demonstrated incredible new ideas for providing access to justice services in cost effective, sustainable and scaleable ways,” says Ellen Tacoma, Director of the HiiL Justice Accelerator in The Netherlands, “And their commitment to principles of justice as a human right is truly humbling. They’ve set the bar exceptionally high for our other regional finals in Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dhaka and The Netherlands over the coming month.”
Following the conclusion of the regional finals around the world, HiiL will invite selected startups and innovators to join its Justice Accelerator programme, through which it supports fledgling organisations with seed funding and development assistance.
HiiL would like to thank the Southern Africa judges for their invaluable assistance: Tony Pillay, Acting CEO of Law Society of South Africa, Nicci Stewart, Founder of The Why Effect, Charmika Samaradiwakera Wijesundara, lecturer at Wits University School of Law and Tiyani Majoko, co-founder of Lawgistics Legal Consultants.