“My dad was hit on the head with a blunt object. He was in a comma for months and later passed on in December, 2006. He had not written a Will,”
So begins the story of an enterprising youth looking to walk away with over Sh5 million from an ongoing innovation contest, should his new platform go through. “Thereafter, my mum made countless trips to the High Court in Busia, in a bid to become the administrator of dad’s property.
Years later when I worked for the Kenyan Judiciary, I realized that court brokers had taken advantage of my mum’s ignorance of the succession process and swindled her big time,” notes a disappointed Mr Mathew Egessa, co-founder Famalia.
With an SMS platform that seeks to disseminate legal information on the processes involved in the transfer of inherited property in Kenya Mr Egesa is among 9 others currently shortlisted in the HiiL Innovating Justice Competition slated for later this month in the Hague, the Netherlands.
And according to the site running the contest, finalists will pitch their justice solution to a wide international audience of potential partners and investors. “[In the process], finalists can win up to €100,000 seed-funding per challenge and professional acceleration support in developing their business plan,” reads part of the information page on innovatingjustice.com.
Besides, organised around the broad areas of human rights, employment rights and, SME empowerment, the challenge in its 5th year since inception in 2012, has so far shortlisted 385 innovations in more than 83 countries, as well as awarded 25 innovations with over €350 000 in seed investments.
“[This year alone], the ten startups selected for the 2016 Innovating Justice Award come from eight countries , and tackle justice issues as diverse as rural birth registration in Cote d’Ivoire to emergency legal help in Ukraine,” writes Connor Sattely at innovatingjustice.com.
Incidentally, touching on how it works, the former software developer and trainer at C4DLab says thatFamalia seeks to enable parties in succession disputes (mostly the defendants of the deceased) to track their cases “the same way they track their phones’ airtime and receive SMS alerts”.
“The information will be accessible via a basic mobile phone and a variety of 2G (SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Technology and USSD) channels,” he explains.
Moreover, he says, at a small cost, parties to an inheritance case will also be able to send a query and receive a mini statement, curated as an SMS, of the last position of a specific case, provided they know the case number.
Yet to actualise the whole process, Mr Egessa revealed that the team of three co-founders intends to partner with the Judiciary to manage the information on the cases.
“Our team has expertise in legal, technology and business. Regina Cherotich (Co-founder and Head of Business Development) several years experience in running businesses. Juliet Nyarindo is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and has 4 years experience in the legal field.
Mr Egessa says in closing that in the final analysis, since the process of transferring inherited property from a deceased person in Kenya is ever frustrating and resource-draining, he expects Famalia to provide a new way of delivering service, especially by improving productivity and efficiency of the parties involved, “when all their frustrations and wasted man-hours are significantly reduced.”
BY MOSES OMUSOLO