Private Sector-- an option for sustainable financing for justice/paralegals at scale?

Recently I have been discussing with private sector friends who manage impact investing funds or social impact bonds (SIBs) in development contexts whether they think these models could ever support “access to justice.”

While some of the early experiments with SIBs involved recidivism (UK, Boston, USA), I wonder if there might be other indicators/measurements of impact that might be ripe for some testing of this approach. A specific indicator/measure of impact is necessary to creating a SIB. Perhaps @staceycram might have some ideas with respect to which indicators and measures of impact have really gained ground in the Post-2015 discussions and are relevant to paralegals?

For more information/a helpful diagram of SIBs see:

This is obviously quite different from the “global fund for justice” model (Ref: Global Fund [for AIDS] or Green Fund [for climate change]) that have currently circled Post-2015 discussions of finance for justice. But, I do think it is an interesting mechanism to get non-government actors involved in financing at a potentially transformative scale.

Is this something Namati would be interested in exploring? Does it seem achievable or desirable?

Look forward to hearing your reactions!

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would love to explore this @caitlinpierce, thank you for posting. (@tobiaseigen makes we wonder if we should have a separate category about the revenue model for legal empowerment.)

caitlin, based on what you understand of SIBs, do you think any of the indicators we proposed in relation to post 2015 could work?

@paulmccann i couldn’t find a link to that indicators sheet from our post-2015 campaign page- possible to add there?

@vivekmaru and @Mustafa_Mahmoud, glad to spark some interest!

If looking at indicator as the entry point, I think that access to legal services might be the best for exploring this type of funding, as it is broad and allows a lot of innovation in implementation which is one of the advantages of results-based financing. Moreover, there is rich research to support why access to legal services is essential for a number of reasons (important for making the case to investors). Others to consider could be security related-- as it links directly with business interests, or even land rights (in a case where unclear land rights complicates investment). That doesn’t mean that an extractives company would be the one to invest–just that the linkage is maybe easier to understand than say, citizenship rights.

A different entry point could be to first choose a country-- thus far, SIBs have been established only in middle income (or high income) countries, including India, South Africa, and Colombia. In part that is due to general investment risk and legal frameworks (and SIBs are somewhat risky investments!) and in part due to the government’s ability to be the end payor, which is one option (foundations, or development banks are also end payors in some instances). If choosing India, for example, participation/accountaiblity in access to basic services could be compelling given both the progressive laws and high levels of investment in the basic services space.


In developing countries like Kenya, a Development Impact Bond (DIB) is a variation of the SIB model that would provide new sources of financing to achieve improved social outcomes in developing country contexts. But when we put it to test there are some of the sectors where our paralegals operate that may succeed due to direct benefits to the government for example right to health and paralegals working in prisons. @caitlinpierce @vivekmaru @michaelotto @lauragoodwin Forgive me for using the term ‘we’ for the best part of this comment but I look at this as a collective work and I feel part and parcel of all of Namati’s initiatives. On that note allow me to expound on my point on the reality of SIBs or in the developing countries context DIBs. According to me this needs a lot of political good will and thus we can take advantage of this in particular activities that the government can directly benefit for example in the Right to health department which I understand Namati has a lot of activities and this could benefit in this approach. The direct benefit can be achieved by the amount of funds the government saves which it could have spent in treating preventable diseases that could be spread as a result of negligence or discriminatory practices and in Kenya the good will can be attained through the office of the first lady and even some politicians. In the prisons and correction facilities paralegals efforts have been recognized and this is also another field we can take advantage of where the we can solicit more funds to increase the skills of paralegals not only to empower the inmate on how to self-represent themselves and relevant laws but also directly participate in the rehabilitation and re-integration of the inmates once they finish their sentences. We can take advantage of the current “goodwill” gesture that currently exists and the current legal aid bill. I know I might sound a pessimist by my next point but it’s a realistic view. The other fields where our paralegals operate like the community land, environmental justice and citizenship rights, and paralegals may attract little or no goodwill. For example in Kenya where most of the land grabbers aka private developers are big time politicians and in India where the same investors we might target are the perpetrators of the pollution like in Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu, India) for alleged mercury contamination. [quote=“krithikadinesh, post:1, topic:1620”] 14 years ago Hindustan Lever Limited’s thermometer factory was ordered to be shut down in Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu, India) for alleged mercury contamination. [/quote] I must say I am fascinated by the creativity in advocacy in this article. In the line of citizenship paralegal projects the goodwill will need divine intervention. This is due to the fact that the communities being discriminated are regarded by the government as non-citizens and any organization assisting them faces a lot of resistance for example in Bangladesh where the host organization of the paralegal project faces a lot of challenges every year when they need clearance from the government to begin their next financial year. It is already three months down the line since they submitted their budget for the year but it’s not yet approved. In Kenya the Nubian case is quite similar where the government officials resisted the paralegals but had to come to terms with the fact that they were here to stay. To be honest I believe this is an approach we can take on with reservation on which fields we can attract the goodwill from both the investors and the government since they both call the shorts and we need both of them to achieve this success and for the other sectors we can start thinking along this line. enter link description here


@Mustafa_Mahmoud, I appreciate you making explicit the issues surrounding political will of both investors and government, as they are both indeed critical in SIBs/DIBs, especially in cases where the government is the ultimate payor (which sometimes they are not). Your post speaks well to both the need to carefully select issue and country in which to test such a model.

The goal in a first attempt should be to show that it is a viable and beneficial model, and right to health (reducing disease burden and costs), paralegals (help to streamline court processes), or a security/recidivism effort would be a promising fit.

I am personally keen down the road to see if such a model would work in the environment/land space (I take your point about the difficulty of it, but for example here in Myanmar there is a venture capital fund that is eager to invest in ethnic communities’ governance rights, addressing at least one half of the political will challenge–though not the half of government and powerful cronies having huge interests in land). In any case, I agree it is not the right entry point for piloting a SIB/DIB approach.

If Namati is curious to further explore the possibility of SIBs/DIBs, there are a few good organizations out there who specialize in helping to think through and “match-make” potential partnerships, countries, etc. Happy to provide some names if/when appropriate, and perhaps @caitlinsislin will come across others at SOCAP!

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Here at SOCAP, there’s plenty of discussion about the need for innovative financing mechanisms – especially towards implementation of the ambitious SDGs. I’m hearing quite a bit about SIBs and am attending a panel on Friday about non-traditional funding models like SIBs (& prize challenges/ competitions, etc.). @staceycram please keep an eye out for SIB opportunities emerging now after passage of the SDGs.

This report from the Brookings Institution gives some background on SIBs for criminal justice and other issues, highlighting the need to show that an SIB program creates savings for the government entity that’s the ultimate payer:

Looking forward to continuing this discussion. We may want to conduct or commission some research on this specific question, if it’s not already underway (any news from the study commissioned by GLEI members on financing for legal empowerment?).

Have we engaged with HiiL/ the Innovating Justice Challenge?!/pages/innovating-justice-challenge-2015

See also:

Yes, the Myanmar team along with Ulula is competing for a HiiL award. Funding still TBD.

Exciting to hear about SOCAP. I’m familiar/good friends with the founders of Instiglio- I know they’re floating around there too!