Uganda’s startup BarefootLaw along side Ghana’s Farmerline and Kenya’s Kytabu emerged winners of the 2017 King Baudouin African Development Prize; a prize that rewards outstanding contributions made by individuals or organisations in the area of development in Africa. The Prize highlights innovative initiatives that improve the quality of life for local communities and empower them to take charge of their own development.
Startup BarefootLaw was award a cash prize of EUR75000 (USD$84000 or 300.1 million UGX) and access to a wide network of stakeholders who will support them as they grow.
Thomas Leysen; Chair of King Baudouin Foundation in a press statement, said by enabling local, creative initiatives focused on social good to grow, the prize aims to promote a culture of self-sufficiency and empowerment, not dependency.
“The foundation believes in recognizing and supporting local entrepreneurs who are passionate about finding solutions to local development challenges. Our winners have set a new precedent on how technology can change lives across Africa,” he said.
BarefootLaw alongside the other two startup from Ghana and Kenya share the underlying principle of using simple technology to connect people with essential knowledge.
According to Disrupt Africa, BarefootLaw Founder; Gerald Abila said he was humbled by the award and the recognition of BarefootLaw’s work.
“In 2012 we set out with the goal to demystify the law and empower people to understand their rights. The few legal practitioners in Uganda are based in the capital city, making it difficult for people both in urban and rural areas to access legal services,” he said.
BarefootLaw becomes the first online legal service in East Africa, offering free-of-charge services that help those who are in need, especially the most vulnerable, to understand and defend their basic rights.
The startup provides the public with free legal information and assistance using innovative approaches. They use technology in addition to the traditional methods to offer free legal information and assistance. In serving the public, Barefoot Law has embraced innovative approaches.
Of Uganda’s approximately 2,600 licensed lawyers, the majority are based in Kampala, leaving millions of citizens with hardly any access to legal services. The organization offers free-of-charge services that help those who are in need, especially the most vulnerable, to understand and defend their basic rights.
Notably, two other startups from Uganda; a Solar power low-income populations provider Barefoot Power and motorcycle-taxi network SafeBoda are representing the country at this year’s SPRING; an accelerator working with growth-oriented businesses on innovations that can transform the lives of poor and vulnerable girls aged 10 – 19 years living across East Africa and South Asia.
The BarefootLaw team will get to tour Brussels and the United States in June and November 2017 respectively.
Editor’s Note: This article contains inputs from The Independent Uganda