Appruve, the flagship product of a Ghanaian startup — Inclusive Innovations Inc., has emerged the winner of the 2019 Hague Institute of Innovation of Law (HiiL) Innovating Justice Challenge West Africa regional final.

The regional final, which took place at the Netherlands Embassy in Lagos, had seven finalists, excluding Bankly, pitch to a five-man panel, who selected Appruve, Africlaim and Flemer as the top three startups.

Related: Meet the 2019 Innovating Justice Challenge West Africa Regional Finalists

In addition to the grant funding of €20,000 (₦8 million) that will be shared among the three winners and their participation in HiiL's Justice Accelerator, Appruve and Africlaim will be attending the one-week intensive Justice Entrepreneurship School and Innovating Justice Forum in Hague, Netherlands.

The members of jury were:

  • Osita Nwoye (AKA Oo Nwoye), Founder of Tech Circle;
  • Funkola Odeleye, CEO of DIYlaw — winner of the 2015 HiiL Innovating for Justice Challenge;
  • Rahila Olu-Silas, Assistant Chief State Counsel at Plateau state Ministry of Justice;
  • Kanan Dhru, HiiL's Community Manager;
  • Odunoluwa Longe; HiiL Justice Innovation Country Representative, West Africa

It is noteworthy that last month, FbStart Accelerator announced Appruve as the only non-Nigerian startup among the 12 startups participating in its 2019 Cohort. This contiguous success of Appruve into two accelerator programmes shows that the lack of financial identity for Africans is an endemic problem.

Kwame Yeboah, Chief Product Officer of Inclusive Innovations, in his presentation, said they have been able to verify 15,000 identities and onboard 30 service providers who are using Appruve APIs to verify their customers.

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The lack of financial identity, Kwame said, has excluded up to 185 million Africans from the digital economy.

What else happened at the HiiL regional final in Lagos?

As interludes to the pitches, there were two insightful panel sessions. First, "Justice Reform: Perspectives from the bar" and another on "Impact Investment: A tool to finance justice innovation".

The former was moderated by Theodora Kio-Lawson, Manager of Legal Business at Business Day, and the latter was moderated by Nichole Yembra, Founder and Managing Partner at Chrysalis Africa.

The first panelists had:

  • Funke Adekoya, SAN, Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution Practice at Aelex
  • Seni Adio, Managing, SANPartner at Copley Partners
  • Yemi Candide-Johnson, SAN, Senior Partner at Strachan Partners
  • Kemi Eweje, FCIArb, Partner at Patreli Partners

They submitted that justice does not belong to the lawyers or judges, it belongs to the people — justice is a public service. And both lawyers and judges must ensure its success as determined by the people who engage with the justice system.

Yemi Candide-Johnson, who is also the president of the court of arbitration, said if the justice system embrace an open-source system of knowledge sharing and paperless system, both the bench and bar will be able to handle more cases. Currently, on average, it takes 3.5 years for a case to be concluded in any Nigerian courts.

The second panelists were:

  • Dayo Ademola, Head of Innovation at Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access
  • Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director of FATE Foundation
  • Dr Dotun Olowoporoku, Associate Director at Novastar Ventures

The panel touched on the differences between non-government organisations and social enterprises. Their submitted that companies are increasingly moving towards impact returns to compliment profit, or at the minimum not to cause harm. Hence, social entrepreneurs must not be blinded by the impact of their entreprise, forgetting to engineer a revenue model that will sustain them. Even for a non-profit, sustainable impact is the pinnacle of success.