How Afriwise’s top legal aid saves the AECF precious time and money

  • The AECF, a development funder, assists enterprises that are centred on agri-business, renewable energy, and climate technologies.

    They support innovative businesses, with the aim of reducing rural poverty, promoting resilient communities, and creating jobs through private sector development.

    The AECF has successfully implemented programs across 26 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting over 375 enterprises, raising US$ 422 million in funding for programs that have created over 25,000 jobs and impacted over 28 million lives.

    The AECF provides patient capital to new and innovative business models across Sub-Saharan Africa through various financing instruments. Banks usually consider these businesses to be too risky to fund.

    Additionally, it also offers advisory services, investment support, and knowledge and insights to supplement finance.

    Goals of the AECF include increasing agricultural productivity, improving farmer incomes, expanding clean energy access, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving resilience to the effects of climate change.

    The challenge of accessing law

    Because the AECF provides funding and legal advice to small businesses in so many parts of Africa, it is essential that they have up-to-date access to the laws of each country.

    This presents an enormous challenge because this information is often not readily available online and it can be costly and time-consuming to work with lawyers that are local to each country.

    Before partnering with Afriwise in early 2021, the AECF’s legal department of only three people had to handle the legal requirements of the entire organisation. They relied on online resources and legal information that was referred to them by locals.

    Becoming a member of Afriwise changed this process completely. Deborah Momanyi, the Legal Officer at the AECF, says:

    Afriwise was a ‘unicorn company’ because it took up our challenges and tailored the solutions. Even when we don't have a physical presence in the countries, having access to correct, up-to-date legislation and legal resources saves us a lot of time.

    How to connect with well-established lawyers

    The process of sourcing a well-established lawyer was time-consuming and would take months to complete. Even when one was sourced, the AECF still faced getting the legal opinion challenged in a particular jurisdiction. The risk of incurring penalties jeopardised both them and the businesses that they supported.

    Afriwise also provides a list of lawyers that we can contact based on their experience levels and areas of expertise. So, we’re not groping in the dark. We chose Afriwise because of its efficiency, as well as the significant cost and time savings.

    Momanyi noted that Afriwise’s services and products have led directly to a 45% reduction in legal costs and that the legal resources that previously took months to source now take an average of only one day.

    Why the AECF has partnered up with Afriwise

    The AECF’s unique challenges were met in the following ways:

    • They needed accurate, up-to-date legal information relevant to each country and easy to access - Afriwise provides this information on an easily accessible one-stop platform and sends out weekly email updates of new laws.
    • The AECF regularly needed to compare the laws of different countries to adapt their approach to each - The comparison feature on the Afriwise site allows the AECF to compare several countries’ laws all at once.
    • They wanted to contact reputable local lawyers with good insights - Afriwise provides an expert database of vetted local lawyers, who the AECF can contact at no extra cost because they are Afriwise members.
    In one case, the AECF needed almost immediate guidance regarding the labour laws in Tanzania. They went directly to the Afriwise directory and familiarised themselves with the latest recently-updated laws. They were able to prepare the case thoroughly for management and the board and provide their legal opinion on what was required by Tanzanian law. So, when the board required a way forward based on these current insights, the AECF was fully prepared and could access a local lawyer to consult on this with complete confidence and understanding of the situation.

    In Conclusion

    The AECF has enjoyed significant benefits from partnering with Afriwise. Their productivity and turnaround time have improved enormously and they have access to the current professional insights that they need to help and support small, growing businesses in various African countries.

    Partner with Afriwise. Take the initiative in utilising technology to solve legal issues. It saves a lot of time and money.”  – The AECF Legal Officer, Deborah Momanyi

    The AECF finance high-risk businesses that struggle to access commercial funding; they are prepared to invest where few mainstream financing institutions dare to go.