The 2016 Innovating Justice Boostcamp held on Friday September 23rd 2016, attracted 100 multidisciplinary participants including mentors and judges to listen to the pitches from 6 promising Justice Innovators fromover 400 applications which came in across the African continent, standing a chance to win a part of 160,000 EUR in funding among other benefits. These Justice innovators are working on justice related innovative solutions directed towards addressing local community problems as part of the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) Justice Accelerator, based in the Hague Netherlands. The Innovators who pitched their innovative projects were eager to glean from the experiences of carefully selected participants including; a knowledgeable line-up of speakers, panelists, facilitators, vibrant entrepreneurs and innovators.

The Innovating Justice Boostcamp is a regional event organized by Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL), a not-for-profit institution based in The Hague, International City of Peace and Justice, driven to make justice work for people through new technologies, cutting edge knowledge on conflict resolution, and new forms of organization and governance. They partner with NGOs, governments and legal entrepreneurs to improve rulemaking and conflict resolution processes. Guided by the belief that,” justice should be accessible to everyone”, they work to increase access to justice and enhance the rule of law.

This year, the HiiL Innovating Justice Team partnered with RAN to host the Kampala event which successfully happened at Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) on Plot 30 Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Uganda. It kicked off at 4:00 pm with registration and welcome remarks by HiiL and RANLab representatives: Nathalie Dijkman, Justice Sector Advisor and Prof. William Bazeyo, Dean Makerere University School of Public Health and RAN Chief of Party/Lab Director respectively. The later gave a brief over view of the Status Update of ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), he encouraged the need for everyone to support and express interest in supporting social innovations, inspired all participants to join the team innovating at RAN and encouraged them to look out for the next RAN Grant call that will be out soon (the Social Innovations Grant). In his remarks, he further noted that, “RAN is open to offer further support to the top HiiL Innovating Justice Bootcamp Innovator through its Capacity Building Program and offer the team Incubation Space among others”. He also thanked the HiiL Innovating Justice Team for choosing to hold the Bootcamp at RAN noting that the Innovation space was available for such initiatives so that we can all remain creative while thinking outside the box.

Nathalie noted that “One of the 2015 Award winners is in fact one of the most promising justice entrepreneurs in Uganda, namely the Barefoot Lawyers, headed by Gerald Abila who is with us today”. She shared that it is always exciting viewing the hard work of this team. That with the HiiL acceleration support, the Barefoot Law Innovators  launched the mSMEGarage, which has since its launch in March already reached over 1000 small business owners to get access to legal advice on topics as contracts, incorporation and tax compliance.  

This event was graced Justice  Geoffrey Kiryabwire, a Ugandan Judge of the Commercial Division of the High Court of Uganda as the Keynote speaker. He discussed the role of justice innovation, achievements and Perspectives in Innovative Justice Solutions and Access to Justice in Uganda. He presented the changing justice landscape by clearly discussing the roles of the 21st century lawyer in the age of ICT, future of the courts and legal practice, what the Judiciary is doing in the area of innovation for example, providing information and enhancing transparency through judiciary portal, ULII website, social media, procedural changes and the institutional changes such as;  the judiciary transformation plan and judiciary client service charter which all are geared towards achieving social justice and cooperation with private innovators. He noted, “We all need to embrace Innovation, it is the way to go, even the legal fraternity needs to continuously innovate so that we can improve the way we handle issues in our chambers and court too”.

Innovator Pitches then set in including; BYTELEX (Asiimwe Raymond): provides practical legal solutions and advisory services to startups, technology companies and investors for their spur lasting growth and continuity. EFAJ-P (Fred Muzira): Empowering Families to Access Justice Project, promote human rights by increasing access to information on Land and property Rights, Lawyers 4 Farmers (Helen Mukasa): Promoting Farmer Entrepreneurship who understand the legal needs of farmers. Mobile Legal Aid (Wubeshet Woldemariam Tefra): for survivors of SGBV in Uganda, Puliida (Moses Mugisha):Legal solutions for agribusiness and climate change and J2P (Rancy Bukenya): working towards unattended traffic offenses, unrecorded crimes, un accounted fines and payments by traffic offenders by the Police.

Innovators later joined in a hands-on co-creation session with the Bootcamp participants engaging in a brainstorm about what exactly the innovation entails. This was followed by a Panel Discussion guided by the theme ‘Investing in Family Justice and Entrepreneurship’. This panel hosted Carolyne Kirabo, Social Business Investment Manager at Agrofin, Phiona Mirembe, Founding Partner at Mirembe and Co Advocates and Swizin Kinga, Commissioner of Local Councils Development with the Local Government, moderated by Marriane Akumu, Transitional Justice Coordinator at ACCORD. The panel ran concurrently with the jury evaluation of the justice innovator’s/entrepreneurs’ pitches comprising five inspiring figures and experts in the fields of Justice and SME’s. These included; Sylvia Tamale, Makerere University School of Law, Maureen Nahwera, Program Manager Rule of Law with SIDA, Davis Baasha, Regional Director and Senior Advisor at BiD Network, Sophie Racin, Component Manager, Rights, Justice and Peace for DGF, Ugandan Justice Law and Order Sector representative.

The Jury later shared their analysis, evaluation criteria, recommendations and conclusions with the Justice Innovators and Bootcamp participants strongly noting the need to always include one’s business model in the pitch as this speaks towards scaling and sustainability of the innovation among others. The Puliida-Legal solutions for agribusiness and climate change justice innovator team emerged best overall and will will most likely go to The Hague and receive an investment of up to 20 000 EUR equity free. This team also received a 6 months online marketing package and a certificate from HiiL Innovating Justice Office. The subcategory winners were Lawyers4Farmers (category ‘overall presentation’) and Justice2People (category most promising impact). 8-10 finalists from across 6 bootcamps (Tunis, Lagos, Kampala, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Kyiv in Ukraine) will be announced by October 19, 2016. These will take part in the Justice Entrepreneurship School, taking place between November 26 December 2, 2016 in The Hague. This is a training week where they will receive expert advice, work sessions with HiiL and external experts and all kinds of tools to improve their product and be ready for a 6-month validation trajectory.

The closing remarks at the Innovating Justice Bootcamp Kampala were delivered by Gerald Abila, an Innovator with the Barefoot Law Team who encouraged all innovators not to give up whatever the circumstances “Colleagues, I was among the last Innovating Justice Bootcamp beneficiaries who can testify the benefits of remaining focused and determined to achieve. Let us all continue innovating to address communities’ challenges. Legal innovation is not something new and it is not something easy but Do Not Give Up”.  The event was officially closed with a Networking Cocktail (drinks, bites and entertainment).

‘Solutions through Innovation’