Globally, access to justice is recognized as both a basic human right and a means to protect other universally recognized human rights. One of the major obstacles to accessing justice is the cost of legal advice and representation. The other is ignorance about the law.
These challenges continue to stop millions across Africa from seeking for Justice and later getting it. Nonetheless, several individuals and organizations are coming out to tackle these issues so that more people can have access to legal services which is key for all those seeking justice.
Among such organizations is Sheria Kiganjani; a Tanzania-founded digital platform that enables people to access various legal services remotely by using their mobile phones and computers.
Sheria Kiganjani is a Swahili set of words which when translated to English means ‘Law on your Palm’. True to its name, this organization enables individuals and organizations to have access to Legal services through Calls, USSD, Web and the APP.
Neema Magimba, the Co-Founder and Head of Legal at Sheria Kiganjani notes that the company is providing easily accessible and affordable legal services to low- and middle-income earners in Tanzania through their mobile phones.
“Through our platform, users can talk to lawyers 24/7, get connected to lawyers closest to where they are, able to download draft templates of legal documents like contracts or MOUs, able to formalize or register their businesses directly through our Application,” Magimba said.
She added: “Most of the laws in Tanzania are in English yet the majority of the Tanzanians speak Swahili. We have allowed our users to have access to over 8000 questions and answers which simplifies the complex legal provisions in Swahili language.”
Those interested in using Sheria Kiganjani services pay a subscription fee – daily, weekly or monthly, after which they are connected to a lawyer remotely or physically depending on each user’s needs.
“The payments are done digitally through the APP automatically. Feature phone users get dedicated services through our helpline. We also share an informative SMS with all our users every week. We are also developing a full-fledged USSD platform which will enable all feature phone users to access all our services without calling us first,” Magimba said.
She notes that the main challenge facing the FinTech ecosystem in Tanzania is the high costs required to acquire licenses to operate.
To this, Magimba explained; “For purely FinTech platforms, one of the huge challenges we have seen is the costs of getting the relevant licenses and certifications needed from Bank of Tanzania to be able to handle payments within their platforms. The regulations are very clear but that amount of money within the regulations does not really consider a start-up especially one that is working with seed funding.”
We interacted with Sheria Kiganjani on Day 10 of 40 Days 40 FinTechs for Tanzania. First implemented in Uganda, 40 Days 40 FinTechs is an annual FinTech Innovation initiative presented by HiPipo to recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations who are making significant strides in promoting financial inclusivity through the use of technology.
It is aimed at promoting innovation and collaboration among FinTechs in Africa. The initiative is designed to provide FinTechs and startups with mentorship, training, exposure, and networking opportunities to help them grow and scale their businesses.
“Initiatives like 40 Days 40 FinTechs bring all stakeholders together in one room to discuss issues that affect the ecosystem and brainstorm means on how to improve the working environment so that we can flourish in Tanzania. 40 Days 40 FinTechs also helps to spread the word and enable people to know more about FinTech ecosystem players and the solutions they provide,” Magimba noted.
40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative Tanzania is part of HiPipo’s broader Include EveryOne Program that is generously supported by the Gates Foundation and implemented in partnership with Level One Project, ICTC Tanzania, Ideation Corner, Cyber PLC Academy, INFITX, NG Films, Founders Academy and Mojaloop Foundation.
The Include EveryOne program is a beacon of acceleration of FinTech Innovation, empowerment for Women in FinTech and a catalyst for investment and development in the ICT sector. Minus 40 Days 40 FinTechs, other initiatives under the Include EveryOne Program are the FinTech Landscape Exhibition, Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit and Incubator, Digital Impact Awards Africa and the Digital and Financial Inclusion Summit.
HiPipo is recognized as a premier advocate of digital Innovation and financial inclusion champion, a fervent proponent of the #LevelOneProject. HiPipo has been at the forefront, actively promoting digital innovation, Instant, Inclusive Payment Systems (IIPS), and DFS across Africa. With a legacy of advising, mobilizing, and facilitating the adoption of inclusive financial services, HiPipo’s efforts have been nothing short of transformative! For almost two decades, HiPipo has successfully facilitated the inclusive adoption of these crucial services.