November 8, 2021

Driving collaboration for sustainable development

Akin Fadeyi Foundation kicks off ‘What Women Can Do’ competition

…Hogan Lovells, Afritech XYZ, Citibank and Novartis partner to provide support to African start-ups with Hogan Lovells BaSE Catalyst

In the quest for sustainable development, there is a need for collaboration to enhance growth and positive change.

Recently, there has been increasing agreement and interdependence between business, civil society, the public sector, and government towards the values that are needed for a positive impact on people and planet.

Hence, corporate partnership is a necessary and important mechanism to rebuilding the future. The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 proposes partnerships for Goals to ensure mutual understanding among parties and make problem-solving easier. 
As Africa continues to tilt towards development, the need for collaboration is being particularly emphasized in certain sectors, one of which is technology.  The continent has a growing environment for tech start-ups due to its youthful population, high internet penetration and the ability of technology to improve businesses. To ensure an accelerated growth of this potential, partnerships between corporates, government, and local start-ups are necessary.
To ensure that local businesses in Africa benefit from corporate partnership and effective collaboration, global law firm Hogan Lovells’ Business and Sustainable Enterprise (BaSE) Catalyst partnered with Afritech XYZ, an initiative of Do it Now Now. Afritech XYZ connects African tech entrepreneurs to mentors and leaders across the world to provide solutions to start-ups’ challenges and support them in planning for the future. Through HL BaSE Catalyst, Hogan Lovells provides pro-bono support for social enterprises from volunteers from across the firm and in-house counsel at clients. The programme runs in nine countries, supporting over a hundred social enterprises.
The HL BaSE Catalyst programme recently supported four innovative start-ups in the agricultural and tech sectors through a workshop by Afritech XYZ, where volunteer lawyers across four continents provided legal consultations for these SMEs.  They included Helene Holth Skatvedt, Head of Legal at Novartis Norge AS; Bill Ferreira, partner at Hogan Lovells; and Adeola Ighalo, lawyer at Citibank Nigeria.
‘’At Hogan Lovells, responsible business is a strategic priority. HL BaSE Catalyst provides a platform for our team and clients to support to local businesses in Africa that are tackling some of the greatest challenges. We are proud to collaborate with Afritech XYZ because we share similar values of innovation for growth in Africa. We also want to thank our volunteers from Novartis and Citibank.  Through initiatives like HL BaSE Catalyst, we can drive corporate partnerships and ensure start-ups are reaching their potential for greater impact on the continent,’’ said Yasmin Waljee, International Pro Bono Partner at Hogan Lovells.
Also speaking on the initiative and its impact was Founder of Do it Now Now, Bayo Adelaja. Do it Now Now is an organization committed to the empowerment of black people through providing access to opportunities for social mobility, financial inclusion entrepreneurship, and employment
Adelaja said:
‘‘At Do it Now Now, we have a human-centered approach that ensures that people are fully engaged and empowered, and can contribute to their communities through the skills and resources that they have been exposed to. We are all about positive change and we believe that every start-up that is a part of our initiatives can lead, influence, and contribute to a future that is beneficial for all.  With HL BaSE Catalyst we had about 200 applications to work with leading lawyers from Hogan Lovells and other organisations. It was a fantastic opportunity for these four tech entrepreneurs to have access to in-depth knowledge and learn about how to resolve issues and plan for the future’’.
Commenting on the value of the HL BaSE Catalyst programme for entrepreneurs, Olumide Ogunbanjo, Chief Operating Officer at Agrodata, one of the beneficiaries of the initiative, noted:
‘‘With the free legal support and training we received, we were able to improve our documentation. The training enabled us to restructure our agreement with the farmers and how we use data law to collect and aggregate data for agricultural use.’’
Other beneficiaries of HL BaSE Catalyst include StanLab a 3D interactive virtual laboratory application designed for students to learn and practice science experiments hands-on and in real-time; Dermisho Utility and Farm Management Application (DUFMA), a peer-to-peer integrated agriculture platform that connects farmers to service providers and investors; and AquaFarmsAfrica, which grows clean, fresh and organic produce using efficient and sustainable technology to help address the problem of food security across Africa.
Hogan Lovells has been operating in Africa for over 30 years and is committed to understanding, operating in, investing in and respecting Africa. Having close relationships with law firms in 50 African countries, Hogan Lovells aims to make a positive impact on local communities by investing in social enterprise and in-country capacity building. Through HL BaSE Catalyst, Hogan Lovells can assist African start-ups in getting the necessary support through training and secondment opportunities to drive growth for the continent.