Technology as a catalyst to the Pro Bono culture in Africa: GreenRidge Foundation in Perspective
With a particularly young population, Africa is set the be the hub of innovation and commerce. At the centre of this innovation and commerce are the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) who account for most of Africa’s nominal GDP and employments.
Like any other business, MSMEs encounter challenges such as limited access to finance, payments, logistical issues and of course legal and regulatory issues. For some of these MSMEs, legal and regulatory costs are not cost they can bear without impact on the other aspects of their business. Sadly, because these businesses do not have the right legal and regulatory support, it tends to affect other aspects of their business, such as access to funds through loans and equity investments, because they pose a higher risk to financiers and investors.
The growth and sustenance of these small businesses is essential to the overall economic development of the African continent and as the World Economic Forum puts it, helping African SMEs to flourish is crucial not only for Africa but for the global economy, because it creates a growing middle class with disposable income, in tandem with market opportunities for new investors.
Lawyers play a crucial role in assisting Africa’s entrepreneurs resolve some of their legal and regulatory issues, particularly those who cannot afford to pay for legal services. This brings the concept of transactional legal aid to the fore, through which corporate law firms can assist small business owners by provision of legal and business advisory services, as well as regulatory compliance services.
To assist the right kind of entrepreneurs that will power Africa’s economic development, the law firms have to be able to find them and understand their legal needs. This is the gap that GreenRidge Foundation is plugging. We have developed and deployed a technology that seamlessly connects entrepreneurs with corporate law firms, who offer transactional legal aid to these entrepreneurs.
How the Technology Works…
Beyond connecting entrepreneurs with law firms, the Foundation is also creating awareness around the need for transactional legal aid in Africa. At its just concluded webinar on “Community Economic Development: The Place for Corporate and Tractional Pro Bono Lawyers in Africa”, leading lawyers from Hogan Lovells LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Templars and KTA Advocates, discussed the value transactional pro bono adds to economic development in Africa.
It is important to add that GreenRidge Foundation’s work aligns with Goals 8, 9, 10 and 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).