When HiiL Justice Accelerator brought together the most promising innovations and the most beautiful individualsKanan Dhru, Community Manager
Once a year, magic happens at HiiL. This January, the HiiL Justice Accelerator brought together some of the most promising justice innovations from across the world and turned them into allies under the auspices of the Justice Entrepreneurship School (JES).
Preparations began as early as June last year. The accelerator team put out its Call for Innovations inviting justice applications from across the world, with a special emphasis on Africa and Ukraine. Our local team of agents organised information sessions, hackathons, networking events and even varieties of training support – to encourage innovators to apply for this challenge. As hundreds of applications pour in, the accelerator team carefully read through each one of them, organized face-to-face interviews and selected the most promising innovations after competitive pitch competitions.
The prize coveted by the innovators is extensive. There is, of course, the admission into the one-year acceleration programme, up to 20,000 EUR in seed funding, training and mentorship support along with access to the extensive network of HiiL, and an invitation to participate in the JES.
So, this January, when we invited the final 14 justice innovations to the Hague for the JES, our excitement was through the roof.
Central ingredients of JES are the training modules designed to hone business development and leadership skills of the chosen innovators. Working closely with external experts, our team facilitated training on lean analytics, team development, marketing and exposed innovators to the vital components of entrepreneurship.
Discussions on impact measurement and engaging with the justice sector were led by members of the wider HiiL team. Pitch training sessions by the accelerator team found a lot of resonance, especially because the innovators have to make their pitch at the Innovating Justice Forum, that follows the JES.
Our innovators – from across Africa and Ukraine – were deeply engaged and courageously opened up with one another about their personal struggles and shared ideas on how to make innovations thrive. As time passed, the set-up of JES provided the “safe space” as the innovators called it – a community, which they collectively created.
We, the justice accelerator team, constantly felt honoured to be witnessing these conversations and connections. You see guards coming down, trust being fostered and confidence getting harnessed in a group of individuals that started their journey together as strangers.
Those working in the space of justice innovation often wonder about how to scale justice innovations? How to make them financially sustainable, how to bring together great teams to work behind these start-ups and most importantly, how best to achieve maximum impact in preventing and resolving most pressing justice issues in the world?
We witnessed incredible justice innovators become fiercest critiques and yet, foremost champions of each other’s work at the JES. After seeing this transformation, I have no doubt in my mind to emphatically say, that if the lofty goal of addressing the pressing justice concerns has to be achieved, it will be through the power of collaboration and creating communities. It will be through developing more such platforms for them to come together and open up. It will be through inspiring support and undying strength in them for their light within to grow. A light, ready to become a powerful flame, melting the injustices away.