The King Baudouin Foundation handed the 2016-17 King Baudouin African Development Prize to the founders of BarefootLaw (Uganda), Farmerline (Ghana) and Kytabu (Kenya) at a biennial award ceremony in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels.
The Prize recognises the stand-out achievement of three young, African tech-entrepreneurs driving social change across the continent. By empowering those at the heart of social enterprises to advance, the Prize endorses a new model of global development that views entrepreneurship and local leadership, rather than traditional aid, as the key to sustainable change.
BarefootLaw is the first online legal service in East Africa. Of Uganda’s approximately 2,600 licensed lawyers, the majority are based in Kampala, leaving millions of citizens with hardly any access to legal services. The organization offers free-of-charge services that help those who are in need, especially the most vulnerable, to understand and defend their basic rights.
The Prize includes both a financial prize and access to a wide network of stakeholders who will support BFL as they grow.
The Chair of the King Baudouin Foundation, Thomas Leysen said:
“By enabling local, creative initiatives focused on social good to grow, we promote a culture of self-sufficiency and empowerment, not dependency. Traditional foreign aid and donating funds are not the right tools if what we want is to create long-term change on the continent. The Foundation believes in recognising and supporting local entrepreneurs who are passionate about finding solutions to local development challenges. Our winners have set a new precedent on how technology can change lives across Africa.”
The Chair of the Prize Selection Committee, Koen Vervaeke, said:
“Expanding the Prize to recognise three winners instead of one is a reflection of the abundance of tech-entrepreneurs driving social change across the continent.
Young entrepreneurs are changing the economic landscape on the continent. They represent the future, a future that is happening now. Illustrating this in three key sectors was the only way of doing justice to the diversity of this transformation.”
Speaking at the prize award ceremony, Gerald said, “I am humbled by this award and the recognition of BarefootLaw’s work. In 2012 we set out with the goal to demystify the law and empower people to understand their rights. The few legal practitioners in Uganda are based in the capital city, making it difficult for people both in urban and rural areas to access legal services. Our journey is just starting. With the money and mentorship offered through the Prize, we will be able to grow and support more people to protect themselves, their families and communities from legal wrongs.”