Joanne van der Walt and Fernanda Munhoz of AI for Good

The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) is delighted to announce the winners of 2019 Innovating Justice Challenge in Southern Africa. 

At the regional finals in Johannesburg on Thursday 7 November, a panel of international experts had to select the best innovators from a high calibre field of contestants.  

AI for Good took first place with rAinbow, its highly successful chatbot. rAInbow addresses the enormous challenge of gender-based violence in South Africa. The chatbot guides women who believe that they may be in an abusive relationship through a non-judgemental conversation to better understand their situation and lead them to help. Since its launch a year ago, more than 350 000 conversations have taken place on this platform. 

“Winning the regional final of the HiiL Justice Accelerator Challenge has meant so much to us as a team,” said Kriti Sharma, founder of AI for Good, “rAInbow is one year old and this strategic partnership opportunity has come at the perfect time – we’re ready for our next growth phase and will continue to work hard to make the chatbot smarter and to provide victims of domestic violence with a solution that they actually want.”

In second place, the judges recognised the Zimbabwean start-up LawBasket for its potential to grow not just in Zimbabwe, but throughout Africa. LawBasket provides affordable legal cover for small businesses by integrating with existing insurance policies. Businesses can also easily find a lawyer in LawBasket’s database if they need legal help. 

The final runner-up, for the children’s sake, offers pro bono mediation services for families at the Wynberg magistrate’s court in Cape Town. For many family matters, court processes can be traumatic and divisive, but professional mediation is too expensive as an alternative. for the children’s sake has built a successful model for providing mediation for free which it now wants to expand to other courts around the country.

“All nine of this year’s finalists in the Southern Africa region were outstanding,” said HiiL Hub and Franchise Manager, Connor Sattely, “And HiiL would be delighted to work with any one of them in the future. Every year we see the ambition and achievements of innovators in the region get better and better, and we’re confident that the impact these organisations have is changing real people’s lives and making justice more user friendly.”

All three innovations will enter HiiL’s prestigious Justice Accelerator programme and receive funding and support to grow their work and impact. rAInbow and LawBasket will be invited to the Justice Entrepreneurship School and Innovating Justice Forum, which take place in The Hague next February.

Two other innovators from the nine finalists will also be invited to enter the Justice Accelerator programme.

The Regional Final was also attended by South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, and His Excellency the Ambassador for The Kingdom of The Netherlands in South Africa, Mr Han Peters. Both acknowledged the need for innovation to address the many challenges related to unresolved justice issues locally and around the world. 

A panel discussion on gender-based violence, led by Maricia Froneman of THUMA Foundation, found that justice innovation can play an important role in making it easier for women to report crimes and improve criminal record sharing between public institutions.

Regional Finals for the HiiL Justice Accelerator have also taken place in Kampala and Kyiv, and two more events are held this week in Lagos and Nairobi.

For more information, images or interview requests please contact Adam Oxford (adam.oxford@hiil.org) or Themba Mahleka (themba.mahleka@hiil.org). 

HiiL is a social enterprise devoted to user-friendly justice. That means justice that is easy to access, easy to understand, and effective. We will ensure that by 2030, 150 million people will be able to prevent or resolve their most pressing justice problems. We do this by stimulating innovation and scaling what works best. We are friendly rebels focused on concrete improvements in the lives of people. 

HiiL’s Justice Accelerator grows and scales justice innovations so they can reach many more people. We look for innovations that provide legal information, legal services or dispute resolution. Since 2011, HiiL has supported more than 90 justice innovations worldwide. Some of them have grown big and have impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. With our help they have the potential  to become regional or global players. 

We are supported by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to run the Justice Innovation programme in Southern Africa. 

Image above:
Joanne van der Walt and Fernanda Munhoz of AI for Good.

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