First of all, can you pitch us your company in just a few sentences ?
Over 6 billion people in the world have a new justice pain point every year, and of that huge number, only 18% have their most pressing issues resolved. With LawBasket, we are solving this problem by creating a tech-enabled community of lawyers and clients, all using our free technology to break geographical barriers and access, deliver and monetize legal services online. We offer an online legal services and attorney payments processing platform that connects startups, farmers, small businesses and individuals to lawyers in Africa in a one-stop platform. LawBasket also has other audacious use cases for legal protection insurance and tech driven legal education through virtual internships.
How and when is it formed ?
The company was founded in December 2018 by a group of entrepreneurs who had previously run Lexware Inc., widely viewed as a resounding success in the legal tech space in Africa.
The LawBasket founding team has two lawyers, Simba Mubvuma and Blessing Makuni, each with 4 years’ experience at top law firms in Zimbabwe. Morton Mabumbo, a CA (equivalent of a CPA) heads up Finance, and Destiny Samkange, a software engineer and weekend radio personality heads tech. Nyasha Makamba, a marketer with experience from the UAE, heads marketing and international business.
- Simba Mubvuma – Co-Founder & Head Of Compliance
2. Nyasha Makamba – Co-Founder & Head Of Marketing
3. Morton Mabumbo – Co-Founder & Head Of Payments
4. Destiny Samukange – Co-Founder & Head Of Tech
Can you tell us more about yourself, your personal background, your experience and how you went to this journey?
Nyasha Makamba is the regional relationship manager at IICD, a cultural diplomatic organization based in Dubai UAE,where Nyasha creates and maintains strategic relationships with key stakeholders at local and country level governments across various regions in Africa. His objective is to Liaise with country governments and relevant stakeholders in identifying suitable sustainable projects that promote cultural diplomacy. In 2018 Nyasha was selected by UNICEF Genunlimited as an innovator. Together with 15 teams, Nyasha worked on solutions that promoted equality and improved the education system in Africa. He is also one of the Co-Founders at LawBasket and heads the Marketing & International business department. A graduate from Middlesex University in Dubai, Nyasha holds a degree in International Business. When he is not working Nyasha is passionate about public speaking and meeting new people that share the same mentality of creating and innovating solutions that will improve the lives of many Africans.
On LawBasket Nysha says ; “At LawBasket, our objective is to open the doors of opportunity and empower all lawyers determined to prove themselves globally whilst simplifying legal services delivery.” (This can be used as a quote)
Can you tell us more about Zimbabwe ? Why this market ?
Zimbabwe is country of 13million people, but with a staggering 4 million people estimated to be in the diaspora. This presents opportunities for startups. On the opportunities, LawBasket is reaching out to the Zimbabwean diaspora, giving them a convenient platform to hire lawyers back home to handle issues like estate planning and real estate investment and management. LawBasket is not the only startup that has benefitted from this, with other startups in Fintech already pouncing on this opportunity. It’s a good market, although currency distortions and other economic uncertainty presents other problems. We are challenging ourselves to grow through these problems.
We must also emphasize that LawBasket is not only working in Zimbabwe, but in various other countries in Africa. In fact, the majority of the lawyers on the platform are from Nigeria, which is exciting for us. What we are doing is to create a virtual law firm which anyone can access from anywhere in the world through one platform. It’s a business that is exciting to scale, and our journey so far has shown that we can scale the business. All of the growth has been organic, and we are excited to be moving forward to expand our footprint.
What are the main issues you have been facing with LawBasket in Zimbabwe ?
The biggest issue in Zimbabwe has been shifting mindsets. It’s not the nicest thing to say but people out here are not the most pioneering people you will ever find. It generally takes time for people to accept new technology, and for people to shift mindsets. This explains why we have more lawyers from Nigeria than from Zimbabwe on the platform although we are a startup based in Zimbabwe. In all honesty, we thing it’s high time people in Zimbabwe step up to support their own startups.
Who are your main competitors around ? And outside of the country, who are your inspiration ?
In Zimbabwe, we are the first platform of this kind. There are also not many similar platforms in Africa on this. The Swiss Legal Tech Association lists LawBasket as the only entity in Africa to be doing this sort of thing. There could well be other platforms in Africa doing this, but they are not doing it on the level and scale we are doing it. Outside the country, our inspiration is UpCounsel in the US. We also take inspiration from other marketplace businesses like Airbnb, who we look up to as benchmarks for client driven ratings and transparency in service acquisition.
Is it hard to find investors there?
We haven’t started our rounds of funding, so we can’t say for a fact how hard it is to find investors here. The word around town is that it is quite hard. At the end of the day, we believe that we are solving a problem that’s worth solving with a great team and a solid product, so finding investors who align with our funding should be possible in the next 12 to 18 months. We have been talking to organizations across Africa and in the US, and we are confident that we will raise the funding we need to this on a larger and profitable scale.
What do you think is lacking to Zimbabwe to develop it more? What are the main barriers to develop a startup there?
Zimbabwean startups need to benchmark more, read more and dream more. The failure to do all this has been the biggest barrier to startup development here. Yes, getting finance is not easy, but solid ideas and solid execution is key. That’s been lacking with most startups in Zimbabwe. Every day, we are working hard as a startup to dream more and benchmark more. We have been taking key lessons from other tech companies in Africa, like Paystack where Shola and his team are doing fantastic work, with a solid onboarding strategy that we have been learning from. We are also looking far and wide to benchmark our work. Simba Mubvuma, one of our co-founders, has just been accepted as a Mandela Washington Fellow, and will be in the US this summer where he will be meeting a lot of businesses in Indiana and Chicago with a view to benchmark the work of our startup. That’s what we believe is key to startup success in Zimbabwe.
What is your perspective for the next years on Zimbabwe and more regionally on Africa?
Zimbabwe has to pick up the pace, and not much will be coming out of Zimbabwe in the next few years at the current pace. For Africa, it’s on the rise, and places like Kigali and Nairobi can be huge ecosystems for startup growth in Africa. The young people of Africa are ready to work hard to create startups that will solve Africa’s problems in healthcare, in access to justice and in financial services. We are excited to be part of this cohort.
As you know, we are always on the look of great startups, new products and amazing entrepreneurs, could you name a few locally or regionally in Zimbabwe?
There are several interesting startups in Zimbabwe. Out here, I would say several like Fresh in a Box, Amigo and Flexi Africa standout. There are probably more, because the unemployment rate in the country has pushed people into entrepreneurship. We expect more to be coming up this year and beyond.