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Barefoot Law, one of Uganda’s first and most recognizable tech-powered legal services has won 5 Million Uganda Shillings in the just concluded second round of “UG Needs More of You” campaign run by Airtel Uganda.
The non-profit organization came third place to win the cash prize in the campaign whose stated purpose was to reward, recognize, and support Ugandans harnessing the power of technology to create change.
Agro Supply Ltd, a company which uses technology to provide credit financing for farmers as well as supply farm inputs and quality disease-resistant seeds won the second round of the “UG Needs More of You” campaign cashing in 15 Million Uganda Shillings.
One Impact TB App, a mobile application that aims to empower people in Kalangala affected by Tuberculosis (TB) with helpful information in a bid to improve TB care came second winning 10 Million Uganda Shillings.
“When you look at the stories, it requires a smartphone. Ugandans are very good businessmen and what is missing is a smartphone thus we are now bringing affordable smartphones that are very critical. ” Mr. Manoj Murali, Managing Director of the telecom giant reportedly said during the award ceremony held at Kabira Country Club in Kampala on Friday, 16th December.
Barefoot Law was founded in 2012 by then Law Student – now Lawyer Mr. Gerald Abila and has over the years won several awards including grants for its operations in improving access to Justice.
Barefoot Law uses social media especially Facebook, SMS, Radio, and Public events to render free legal information about the law to Ugandans in a simple, intuitive and conversational style.
They also provide legal advice and guidance when approached.
In a social media post on Sunday, 18th December, Barefoot Law said the prize money will go toward establishing a village community justice grant for women.
“This campaign meant that there is goodwill for Barefoot Law. The money we got here is going to be used to support women in Kole District.” Ms. Gertrude Lamunu, Communications Head at Barefoot Law reportedly said at the award ceremony.
Airtel Uganda’s “UG Needs More of You” tech campaign comes at a time when stakeholders are advocating for technological innovation as well as better funding for technology startups.
The telecom giant awarded similar amounts of cash to winners in its first round of this campaign in October that included; Wabibi Pads (first), Ensibuuko (second) and Jaguza Tech (third).
Mr. Maurice Mugisha, one of the Judges in the competition, reportedly said impact on the community is a factor they were looking for among the innovations but that this was not easy as it was hard to tell which innovation has the edge over the other in terms of community impact.
“We looked at how many people were able to benefit from a product, how unique it was and what unique access to prosperity it offers.” Mr. Maurice Mugisha reportedly said.
In the case of Barefoot Law, 813,406 people have been served and 22,791 legal cases have been resolved, according to its website.
Telling from the winners of Airtel Uganda’s overall campaign and technology powered innovations in Uganda scoring funding from other sources, a clear disparity emerges with legal innovators losing out on such financing deals and this is already upsetting leaders in the legal tech industry.
“Sustainable financing for innovation is another key area where joint effort is needed. Uganda has got an innovation fund, a National ICT Innovation Hub, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Innovation Council all meant for supporting the development, growth, and scale of innovation.
“However, none of this is specifically addressed to Legal Innovation and the funds are meager in comparison to the demand. 90% of startups in Uganda are funded by Venture Capital and according to the Venture Capital Report Uganda received USD 490 million of which 90% went to FinTechs, followed by Energy Sector and Health Sector.
“The Legal Sector remains largely underfunded and hence limited in ability to develop and test solutions. It is imperative that all enablers of the legal sector including the government, development agencies, Venture Capitalists awaken to the need to invest in the promotion and development of Legal Tech in Uganda for increased efficiency and inclusion in the industry.” Ms. Hellen Mukasa, Legal Tech Lead at Innovation Village writes in this blog post.
Earlier, we reported about plans at the International University of East Africa (IUEA) to start a Legal Tech project whose stated purpose will be supporting legal innovations.
Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.
Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.