Six Years of Innovating Justice Awards: What have we achieved?

The 21st century is a new era in how to think about the worlds most pressing challenges; the big players in development realize that aid failed to help the world’s most vulnerable in meaningful ways. We also realize that strong rule of law and access to justice are vital to smooth economic development and upholding human rights.

The HiiL Justice Accelerator comes across hundreds of practical justice solutions every year that can really make a difference. HiiL is proud that through the Accelerator program, in a span of five years, our fellows, reached a total of 1.424.100 direct users. This is an incredible number.

mSME Garage was founded by the Barefoot Lawyers situated in Kampala, Uganda and were second place winner of HiiL’s SMS Empowerment Innovation Challenge 2015. They provide legal information and guidance to mirco, small and medium enterprises’s through social media, text to an online platform and office consultations. One Barefoot client, Latim Fassie, had spent all his money fighting for workers’ compensation after a motorbike accident left him hospitalized for months. He said lawyers at Barefoot Law were the only ones who would tell him his rights and explain to him how to proceed when he couldn’t find proper representation. In Uganda, he said it’s a rare thing, indeed, to get this kind of help at no charge. “They are lawyers that even will call you at their own cost, give you technical advice, call you to their offices, share with you, even share with you breakfast on the table while you discuss papers,” said Fassie. mSME Garage raised $20.000 US through HiiL, and are helping businesses survive their first year and beyond, thereby supporting economic development in Uganda.

Through our different activities of online campaigns, local boostcamps, crowdsourcing, Justice Entrepreneurship School and Innovating Justice Acceleration and Validation programs we helped 384 short-listed entrepreneurs across 79 countries grow and develop a sustainable justice innovation with social impact with 460K in seed funding made available, besides enabling access to HiiL’s international network and access to further investment.

We measure our impact on the basis of three core indicators (Rights Awareness and legal information, access to justice and legal services and inclusive justice policies) and three sub indicators (gender, employment and sustainability).

It is interesting that justice entrepreneurship is an attractive field for women to emerge as key players. One third of our justice entrepreneurs are women, 127 out of 384 of innovations are female-founded! This is an incredible feat, and it should also be notes that even where the founder is male, co-founders and core team members are often female. There is a direct impact on gender equality as number of innovations are focused on women empowerment, and seeing bold women supporting their community through smart innovation counts for something too.

The ten Innovating Justice winners 2016 are about to embark on the Accelerator program that will start the process of scaling their business, expanding services from SMS registration birth (Moh Ni Bah) to tracking court cases via SMS (Famalia) to tech-solutions to abuse of power (Legal Alarm). All are more effective protection mechanisms of citizens’ rights or more participative, accountable and transparent decision- and rule-making processes. HiiL will keep finding and supporting Justice innovators who too often are isolated. They feel trapped in rigid systems and too often lack the necessary skills, connections and support. Effective innovations need to be integrated in existing systems much faster and successful practices need much more exposure around the world.