Measuring the impact of justice innovation: HiiL Justice Accelerator Impact Report

The first Impact Report of the HiiL Justice Accelerator has indicated that, through supporting a community of 384 innovations over 5 years, the Accelerator has provided access to justice to more than 1.4 million people.

The report looks back at HiiL’s impact on improving access to justice through the Innovating Justice Awards. Thanks to the continued support from our partners like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ford Foundation, HiiL has been providing Awards to the most promising justice innovations since 2011.

Measuring social impact is notoriously problematic, and through this process we became very aware of this fact. Existing frameworks, methods and indicator databases for measuring impact exist (see the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS)), but very few provide metrics for measuring ‘improved access to justice’. As was rightly pointed out by Acumen’s Impact Team, the problem in current impact assessment methods is that neither the tools of emerging market investment nor the measurement practices of traditional international development are appropriate to early-stage social enterprises. IRIS provides a catalogue of standardised metrics that any impact investor can choose to track, but we see that impact investors typically collect data only on the financial or operational metrics in the catalogue.

Despite these challenges, HiiL was able to combine our experts’ input with best practices distilled from years of research into citizens’ justice needs and innovation efforts to develop a framework for classifying the type of impact our justice entrepreneurs make. This framework resulted in a few core indicators that show justice entrepreneurs improve access to justice through (a) creating rights awareness or educational platforms (b) providing legal services or dispute resolution and (c) more efficient and inclusive justice policies. Our data shows that our justice entrepreneurs were able to provide access to justice to more than 1.4 million people through these avenues.

Although we recognize the self-reporting and retrospective bias our impact data inevitably has, we see this report as a first attempt to show where and how justice innovation makes an impact. In addition, it shows what justice entrepreneurs need in terms of support and where HiiL’s support has provided the most value. The report provides an interesting baseline against which we can compare the outcomes and impact of our future programmes.

Of course, we are excited to develop more accurate and effective methods of measuring our impact – and exploring such avenues with our partners. For instance, we are keen to empower our innovations with lean data methods and apply these to our own impact assessment programs. The road to measuring impact of access to justice innovations is long, but we are on the right track to prove that justice innovation works!

Click here to download the report.