Ishishini Lethu was launched in Soweto in 2013, in collaboration with Business Information Centre South Africa, a Soweto-based non-profit organisation servicing the small business community.
This project provides a support system for emerging businesses working to establish themselves. It also allows our commercial lawyers to contribute to the communities we operate in according to their areas of expertise.
Over the years, we have assisted numerous small businesses with pro bono legal services such as advice on business registrations, tax compliance and the drafting of shareholder agreements. We have also provided training, emphasising the legal aspects of doing business.
Examples of our work include
We have a longstanding relationship with the Alexandra Chamber of Commerce, especially in offering training and development opportunities to Alexandra-based entrepreneurs.
In 2019 we hosted the ‘Ashoka SEA Change Africa Pitch’ event, bringing together 12 African social entrepreneurs and 140 impact investors and related support organisations. The social entrepreneurs pitched for support for their projects, ranging from initiatives to increase crop yields and reduce school absenteeism to those using renewable energies for irrigation.
In 2018, we attended the Alexandra Chamber of Commerce’s open day for SMEs. The aim was to connect these SMEs with financiers, legal advisors, accountants and well-established business enterprises. We provided corporate legal advice covering the incorporation of companies, legislation relevant to operating companies, and applicable tax laws. We also spent time sharing information about business-critical documents such as memoranda of incorporation, shareholders agreements and security registers.
In June 2014 we took part in a workshop for around 60 construction businesses in the area. The workshop focused on how these businesses could approach and manage their construction contracts in such a way as to enforce their rights and minimise their risks.
In November 2013 we participated in a workshop for 30 artists titled ‘Turning your ideas into a business’ in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry.
We partnered with the Bandwidth Barn to promote our pro bono services to around 20 small businesses from Cape Town and its surrounds in 2014. We also held an onsite legal clinic where our lawyers provided pro bono legal corporate advice to businesses. Many of the businesses later formalised their pro bono applications for further assistance.
Bashia Investments is a newly formed SME that focuses on prospecting and hopes to expand through funding partnerships. During 2020, we assisted Bashia to review the company documents needed to protect it as a minority shareholder in its first partnership.
BlueAvo (Pty) Ltd provides a digital platform that facilitates interaction in the marketing space throughout Africa. Our legal assistance to BlueAvo entailed reviewing the platform’s terms and conditions and drafting privacy and cookies policies.
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship hosted a speed mentoring session for 20 Liberian entrepreneurs at its Braamfontein campus in 2016. The aim was for the entrepreneurs (or mentees) to engage with mentors who had a range of business experience.
Each mentee presented his or her business case and its challenges. Thereafter the business challenges and possible ways to resolve them were discussed in a timed mentoring session during which the mentees rotated every five minutes from one mentor to the next.
Our lawyers’ expertise in international trade, company, competition and intellectual property law and knowledge of the structures and regulations governing the banking and financial sectors was useful in contextualising the mentees’ issues. They also advised on general business expansion strategies such as the possibilities of franchising.
BusinessPROS, a mentoring programme for 12 selected entrepreneurs, was launched in Johannesburg in 2019. We worked with the British Council and the European Union on this initiative.
At the invitation of the Department of Tourism we participated in an outreach to around 200 women entrepreneurs at an event held at the Cape Town Centre of the Book in honour of Women’s Day, 2018. We covered procurement, tax and legal matters relating to small businesses.
The eKasi Entrepreneurship Movement is a not-for-profit company dedicated to improving townships and rural areas in Southern Africa (eKasi being slang for township or informal settlement).
Many successful entrepreneurs have grown out of these areas, coming up with socially-innovative solutions to local challenges. Our Ishishini Lethu project offers legal advice to many eKasi entrepreneurs.
In November 2013, our Cape Town office participated in the #Shape eKasi Entrepreneurship Conference in Khayelitsha. Themed ‘A new breed of Business Leaders’, approximately 250 small businesses from Khayelitsha attended. In addition to presenting, our lawyers were on hand to give pro bono legal advice.
Integrate Health is a non-profit organisation that provides access to high-quality healthcare in the world’s forgotten communities. On its behalf, we conducted research to identify legal frameworks to support the formal and institutionalised compensation of community health workers in South Africa.
The Mogale Youth Chamber, which has been in operation since 2019, assists young entrepreneurs in Gauteng in the hope of redressing the current unemployment, socio-economic and poverty crisis. Working in collaboration with the Gauteng Youth Directorate, the National Youth Development Agency and the Gauteng Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Mogale Youth Chamber and the Gauteng Department of Local Government will invest ZAR 11 million in a project to establish business incubators in the chemical manufacturing and construction sectors. In 2021, our lawyers assisted the Chamber by drafting employment contracts for key management and directorship positions.
With the assistance of our lawyers, the catering business of two Khayelitsha entrepreneurs has been registered as a company with the CIPC. The entrepreneurs are Siyabonga Dick, a client liaison assistant in our Cape Town office, and his business partner Simo Davashe. They have been operating their business from Simo’s home in Khayelitsha and plan to open a restaurant at some point. Company registration is a stepping stone towards this. In 2021, we drafted the various registration documents and advised on regulatory requirements for catering businesses.
Vimbo Health offers app-based treatment for depression and anxiety. It aims to ensure that Africa is included in the future of digital therapeutics and can close the treatment gaps in mental healthcare. In 2021, we mobilised a team of lawyers with expertise in medical negligence and insurance, data protection and pharmaceuticals to advise Vimbo Health ahead of the market launch of its mobile app. We considered whether the mobile app falls into the definition of a medical device and whether the information collected on the users of the app is lawful and in accordance with South Africa’s data protection laws.
In 2019, we participated in a guided training session in Johannesburg where young entrepreneurs learnt how to register a business, be tax compliant, locate key resources and address business problems that may arise. We worked with Ye!, Startup Academy and Children and Youth Finance International.
Also in 2019, we collaborated with Ye! To host a small business outreach event for 20 entrepreneurs in Kampala covering a range of legal topics relevant to small businesses
YSB Kenya provides financing and support to businesses that solve human problems. In 2020, we provided legal advice to YSB in relation to a non-convertible loan facility of up to USD 70 000 to be made available to Alive & Kicking Ltd. Our contribution entailed conducting a high-level due diligence review.