To The Startups Interested In Applying For The HiiL Justice Accelerator Challenge: Here’s What You Need To Know

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar


A few days ago we talked about HiiL Justice Accelerator Challenge, a program that looks for entrepreneurs offering innovations in the justice field and helps them establish them with funding and training. Today they had an event where they offered more info on what applicants need to know. If you had not read about HiiL(Hague Institution for Innovation of law) and what they have done so far, click on this link and familiarize yourself.

Anyway, being at today’s event put us in a position to further clarify what entrepreneurs in the justice field need to be particularly aware of when applying for HiiL’s Justice Accelerator program.

Areas of concern

The accelerator funding is targeted particularly at these key areas:

  • Family Justice
  • Employment Justice
  • Crime and Law enforcement
  • Land and Neighbours disputes
  • Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

HiiL ambassadors were clear in stating that justice innovations in other sectors will still be considered as long as the startups are focusing on justice and can prove that indeed there is a need for the solution being provided. If you were working on a justice innovation that isn’t covered above do not worry, just continue researching and as long as you can prove that your startup is addressing a critical need you will secure funding.

Criteria used to pick startups

HiiL uses a certain set of criterion or a checklist in order to see if your startup is worthy of funding.

One of the things they look at is impact. What I mean by impact is how many people will have their problem solved by your solution? If a solution impacts more people you are obviously more likely to attract funding.

They also stressed that innovators need to put the user first. One of the first things a startup or individual has to ask themselves is “who is this for?” An innovation has to clearly outline who is being helped. Before a startup runs with an idea make sure to perform thorough research on the number of people affected. If the solution caters for a select few then it has to be a pressing need and the startup will have to clearly present and convince judges and investors to have a chance of securing funding.

The judges and investors also value uniqueness. If your innovation is a new method or is innovative or tech-driven you are likely to heighten judges interests in your startups.

They also look at how strong the team is. HiiL understands that a strong team with characters from different backgrounds can offer different solutions to different problems. When they say different backgrounds I’m sure it’s not about money only. You may all be from the middle class but your experiences and views are still different. The importance of a diverse team is also related to skill set.

HiiL Accelerator judges will also be looking for startups that have sustainable business models. They are more likely to choose startups that can become financially self-sustaining over time. The funding is a catapult that is meant to help you grow and not necessarily a continuous sponsorship so they would like to fund startups that have an innovation which allows a consistent flow of income at some point in the future

They also look at the scalability of the solution offered by a startup. Scalability is how transferable the business model is across regions within Africa or even globally. The reason why they look at the potential reach of a startup is that as a solution based innovation, demand may reduce once the offered solution is adopted. However, if a business proposes a solution to a problem that is being experienced in many territories it is also more attractive.

This does not mean that an innovation that only affects Zimbabweans will not be accepted. It simply means if your problem is being experienced elsewhere there is a better chance of being picked.

The application process

The application for acceleration funding is in 5 stages:

  • Call for applications- from 1 MARCH-31 MAY
  • Selection of startups- from 1 JUNE-1 SEPTEMBER
  • Boostcamps– from 2 SEPTEMBER -1 OCTOBER
  • Market Validation
  • Acceleration Phase

Winning isn’t everything…

Even if your startup doesn’t win you’ll get valuable feedback on how to improve so for those who understand that there is always room to grow and learn, there is value in applying and going to the boostcamps even if you don’t walk away with the funding.

HiiL will also foot the startups costs of travel and accommodation so I don’t see any reason why a startup focusing on justice should not at the least apply to be a part of this program

To those interested, you can apply here and best of luck 😉