How three Nigerian women are bridging the gap between SMEs and legal resources

Three young Nigerian women set out to redefine the way small business owners are able to access legal resources.

In toying with an idea, Funkola Odeleye, Odunoluwa Longe and Bola Olonisakin created DIYlaw, a platform that TechCabal describes as “a one-stop legal service delivery hub where entrepreneurs can generate legal documents, register their businesses and intellectual properties and have access to resources in an easy-to-digest format.

“We just noticed that there are certain basic things clients could easily do without having to consult a lawyer if there was an automated service and we decided to toy with the idea.”- Funkola Odeleye (Co-Founder DIYlaw).

DIYlaw won the Innovating Justice Award for SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge East and West Africa, held in Netherlands this month and went away with $40,000 (N7,985,600).

Speaking to Ventures Africa, Odeleye proudly calls their victory at Netherlands an achievement and rightly so. It has been a gruelling journey up until the moment of clinching the title. The Innovating Justice Challenge is said to have garnered about 200 applications from across East and West Africa, which was then narrowed down to seven and then to the final three at the Innovating Justice Bootcamp that held in Lagos two months ago.

Odunoluwa Longe and Funkola Odeleye are co-founders of The Longe Practice, a law firm focused on entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship solutions in Africa, offering legal advisory services to African entrepreneurs. While running this start up, the idea of developing a tech platform that delivers automated legal services was conceived and that was when Bola Olonisakin came in. As the Founder and CEO of GTech Designs, Olonisakin was the best person to build such a platform.

Speaking on the challenges in the African entrepreneurial space, Odeleye said, other than the common issues of access to finance, lack of infrastructure, and corruption, “there is also a lack of information. A lot of start-ups don’t know some basic things that they should … that could pull them out of a difficult situation and that is another issue we (DIYlaw) are trying to address.”

DIYlaw is at the forefront of a new justice innovation movement that is starting, an emerging sector of “justice entrepreneurs” in Africa. These three women represent a group of individuals who seek to make justice systems more accessible through the use of innovation and technology.

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