Nigeria — Registering a business in Nigeria, the legal process of which takes roughly 90 days, complicates the lives of African business owners. In turn, Africa’s economy as a whole has suffered. According to The World Bank’s Doing Business report, the largest economy in Africa ranks 169th out of 189 countries; Nigeria ranks 39th.
Three female Nigerian lawyers started an online service, DIY Law, to overcome the obstacles for African business owners such as excessive regulation, complicated trade structure and murky import and export regimes.
Odunoluwa Longe, a strategic developer at DIY Law, aims to serve Nigerian businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SME). The company is developing DIY Business Boxes as an all inclusive entrepreneurial starter package. Interested clients only need to complete a single form.
For now, DIY Law’s online registration is the only available product of its kind for African business owners, but the trio plans on expanding their product line. The website is currently in its public beta stage, so a portal for legal documents, a resource platform and a directory platform for lawyers will be coming soon. Right now the website serves as a platform to connect African business owners to lawyers for easy and accessible legal advice.
“Based on positive experiences in other emerging markets, and an existing investment pipeline, there is a productive role for government and donors to play in stimulating the market through grants, incentives and concessional support,” according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
DIY Law’s business model is similar to LegalZoom, a U.S. business that supplies broad, yet extensive legal help. These types of online legal services primarily grew out of convenience in the U.S. However, this could help Nigeria and other African business owners relinquish certain red tape challenges riddling the country in a short amount of time.
Longe listed access to finance, lack of infrastructure, corruption and legal issues as the obstacles facing business owners in Nigeria. “[DIYlaw] is making legal, one less challenge to grapple with. Our value propositions are transparency, simplicity and affordability.”
Bola Olonisakin, Funkola Odeleye and Odunoluwa Longe, founders of DIY Law, won the Innovating Justice Award for the SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge for East and West Africa. The Ceremony is an international event that discusses innovative strategies to reaching justice worldwide and offers a $40,000 award.
The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) is the non-profit legal research and advisory firm that co-hosted the SME Empowerment event. According to Olufunbi Falayi, regional representative of HiiL’s Innovating Justice Accelorator, the firm works to simplify the legal processes for African business owners through technology,
“Youth-led startups and small to large business investment increase the flow of capital sustainability,” said Wilfried De Wever, director of the HiiL Innovating Justice Accelerator. “These innovations can significantly contribute to the improvement of the daily lives of people and SMEs across Africa.”
– Rachel Williams