Launched by Sidley in 2012, the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program provides free legal support to eligible small- and medium-size for-profit enterprises and market-focused nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits that have a clear social impact in developing countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The program aims to benefit poor, rural and disadvantaged communities, particularly women, by supporting local businesses that provide enhanced employment and livelihood opportunities. Sidley's holistic approach ensures both tangible and intangible gains to the beneficiaries.
By assisting market-based growth of small and medium-sized local businesses, the program helps boost local economies, increase job opportunities, raise incomes and provide other social benefits, to ultimately improve the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people. Sidley provides a wide variety of legal assistance to these enterprises to expand operations, lower costs, increase profits, successfully access new markets and become attractive partners for investors. Generally, the legal services provided include corporate, transactional, financing, contract, intellectual property and international trade matters. To learn more, see How We Can Help.
The Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program harnesses the experience of hundreds of participating Sidley lawyers working with corporate and local counsel around the world by using their strategic and technical know-how for the benefit of the poorest people in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America and the Caribbean. The program facilitates social development through support to a wide range of local, social-impact driven enterprises including larger farmers’ cooperatives and smaller commercial farming operations, varied supply and processing companies, manufacturing and production entities, microfinance and insurance providers, technology and infrastructure companies, as well as market-focused non-profits and development organizations that work directly with enterprises to expand their operations and make them sustainable, successfully access new markets and become more attractive partners for investors.
In turn, the success of Sidley’s business and NGO clients contributes to increased incomes, profits, and economic stability for disadvantaged local people and local economies. Sidley’s program supports the growth and success of businesses across diverse sectors, and at all stages in various supply-chains – from agricultural growers to service exporters, mobile-app developers to women’s education providers.
Access to Sidley’s international legal experience can help clients navigate and overcome a host of finance, investment and trade challenges to assist them in growing and succeeding which in turn, plays an important role in improving income and welfare in some of the world’s poorest areas.
Sidley provides a wide variety of legal assistance to these enterprises to expand operations, lower costs, increase profits, successfully access new markets and become attractive partners for investors. Generally, the legal services provided include corporate, transactional, financing, contract, intellectual property and international trade matters by:
- Advising on addressing and removing trade barriers for products in regional and international markets
- Advising on compliance regulatory requirements for health, safety, packaging and product standards, financial services, exports and contracts
- Increasing the value of local products in regional and international markets by registering the brand and origin, by using trademarks or by protecting local technology using intellectual property rules
- Reviewing and negotiating investment and shareholder agreements for growth and success
- Creating formal structures such as cooperatives and franchises to ease enforceable contracting throughout the supply chain, and increase bargaining leverage and prices
All applications for pro bono support are reviewed on a case-by-case basis against the following priority criteria:
- Located in- or have primary operations in-a developing country in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean;
- Committed to delivering a positive social impact;
- Are unable to afford or otherwise access international legal services;
- Have established a presence in the local market place (i.e. beyond start-up phase); and
We ask our clients to secure local counsel in case local law related issues need to be addressed.
Sidley welcomes the involvement of in-house counsel from our corporate clients to work alongside Sidley lawyers in supporting our pro bono clients. Corporate counsel bring multifaceted benefits to our pro bono work offering unique and valuable geographic and sector expertise. Corporate counsel also have the opportunity to work in new legal subject areas through exposure to a wide range of pro bono clients and matters.
Corporate counsel, located worldwide, have provided IP, corporate, finance and other non-litigation expertise directly to pro bono clients in collaboration with Sidley lawyers and local counsel. Read our bi-folds for more information.
If you or your company corporate responsibility officers are interested in collaborating with Sidley on pro bono projects, please Get In Touch below to let us know your legal interests, expertise and geographic preferences and we will match you with an interesting and rewarding pro bono project.
Jeffrey Green, Sidley’s Chair of the Pro Bono Committee, discussing the pro bono program
Scott Andersen, Managing Partner, discussing the pro bono program
Scott Andersen, Managing Partner, discussing the pro bono client, Emerging Cooking Solutions
“After speaking with stakeholders at a workshop and visiting a shrimp hatchery, ponds, and a processing plant, I was able to more fully appreciate the challenges facing the Bangladeshi shrimp industry at various levels of the supply chain. These experiences provided meaningful insights into the improvements our client hopes to achieve and enabled us to better assist them in their efforts to support and further develop the shrimp industry in Bangladesh.” Sarah Goldstein, Staff Attorney, New York
Mattias Ohlson, Founder of Emerging Cooking Solutions, Zambia
Scott Andersen, Managing Partner, discussing the pro bono client, Esoko
“The opportunity to travel to Malawi to speak directly with smallholder farmers and organizations that represent their interests helped me gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and issues that our client is seeking to address in sub-Saharan Africa. Driving through farming communities and interacting with local farmers crystallizes the task at hand in a way that telephone conferences and e-mail communications cannot replicate.” Tommer Yoked, Associate, Houston
Matthew Forti, One Acre Fund, discussing One Acre Fund’s work and Sidley’s pro bono legal assistance
Scott Andersen, Managing Partner, discussing the pro bono client, One Acre Fund
Joy Lam, Associate in Sidley’s Hong Kong office, discussing the pro bono program
Video Credit: David Troth Wright
Media coverage of The Akilah Institute for Women project:
Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program collaborates with impact investors, development institutions and agencies, and local counsel around the globe. Our Program Collaborators are important partners, both referring prospective pro bono clients to the program, and providing valuable local and technical expertise to our clients, and to the Sidley lawyers that work on these pro bono projects.
NYU PUBLIC INTEREST LAW CENTER
Location: New York City, US
Description: Known as the “private university in the public service”, they encourage all graduates to incorporate public service into their careers.
DETAIL COMMERCIAL SOLICITOR
Description: DETAIL is distinct as Nigeria’s first commercial solicitor firm to specialize exclusively in non-courtroom practice. As a leading law firm, DETAIL’s in-depth understanding of the Nigerian corporate climate and team-based approach allows the firm to provide exceptional service and pragmatic solutions to companies and enterprises. DETAIL’s legal support focuses on areas of corporate and commercial law, real estate and construction, oil and gas, power, infrastructure, public private partnerships and project finance, finance and capital markets, technology, intellectual property, media and entertainment.
HAMILTON HARRISON & MATTHEWS (HH&M)
Location: Nairobi/Mombasa, Kenya
Description: HH&M is one of Kenya’s most highly acclaimed law firms, and has consistently been rated as a top tier dispute resolution, corporate and commercial law firm by Chambers Global, IFLR 1000 and Legal 500. HH&M has built up a reputation as an innovative, experienced, responsive and highly-skilled firm with the capacity and technical expertise to offer practical legal solutions to both corporate and individual clients. HH&M has a long-standing commitment to supporting charitable causes and undertaking pro bono work directly, and via Trust Law. Sidley and HH&M collaborate to support the local and international legal needs of our shared pro bono clients, providing access to a wealth of legal expertise across a broad range of practice areas.
ONYANGO & COMPANY ADVOCATES
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Description: A full service law firm working with a network of law firms and consultants across the East African region with expertise in many areas including NGO Advisory and Social Enterprise advisory.
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Description: TASLAF is a specialised law firm proving blended legal and tax services to non profits, social enterprises and social impact investors in the East African region. The pro bono arm of the firm offers sound and free legal advice to promising, innovative and socially conscious startups in Africa. Their legal support focuses on social enterprises in the areas of new technology, clean energy, agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas, financial inclusion, and NGOs that promote trade and investment on the continent.
ADVOCATES FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (A4ID)
Location: London, UK
Description: Advocates for International Development is the charity that empowers lawyers to use their skills in the fight against world poverty. They help the legal sector to meet its global corporate social responsibility to bring about world development through pro bono broker and legal education services. They have more than 39,000 lawyers in their network around the world.
AFRICA LEGAL NETWORK (ALN)
Locations: Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Zambia.
Description: An alliance of top tier independent African Law Firms, located in 12 African countries. Some of ALN’s work includes the coordination of cross-border groups focused around industry sectors including agriculture.
THE FISHERIES LAW CENTRE (FLC)
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Description: A grass roots not-for-profit research center whose vision is to ensure family fishermen’ access to justice, to protect our marine environment, to help coastal communities become more resilient, and to assist consumers in accessing safe and sustainable seafood.
Location: Chicago, U.S.
Description: An independent provider of financial consulting services that helps clients and their law firms effectively address complex, off-strategy issues arising from commercial disputes, litigation, investigations, regulation, and other sources of significant conflict or disruption.
PUBLIC INTEREST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ADVISORS (PIIPA)
Location: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Description: PIIPA provides a range of unique pro bono intellectual property services to developing countries. They work in sectors such as agriculture, biodiversity, health and information technology.
Description: TrustLaw is the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global pro bono service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with free legal experience from the best law firms around the world. The organization currently has over 2,000 members in over 170 countries.
Description: ID Social is an organization that is focused on bridging the gap between the corporate, for-profit sector and the social, non-profit sector, through project structuring, project management and institutional strengthening. We work with NGOs, entrepreneurs and medium-size businesses, that seek to generate impact and also be sustainable in the long run.
Location: United States
Description: Village Capital finds, trains, and funds entrepreneurs solving major global challenges. Village Capital builds communities around entrepreneurs to improve business success. Village Capital’s peer review model delivers better results for entrepreneurs and investors. Over the past five years, Village Capital has been the most active seed-stage entrepreneur support organization worldwide. 500 entrepreneurs have gained access to opportunity through 35 programs, and graduates have leveraged initial capital 15:1, created 8,500 jobs, and served 6 million customers.
GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
Location: London, UK
Description: A charitable foundation whose work includes economic development in Africa.
MBAs WITHOUT BORDERS (a signature initiative of PYXERA GLOBAL)
Location: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Description: MBAs Without Borders Advisors enable enterprises, government agencies, and civil society organizations in emerging and frontier markets to acquire, utilize, and adapt the latest management tools and techniques needed to strengthen institutional capacity, improve service provision, and support systemic change.
NEW MARKETS LAB
Location: Washington, D.C., U.S.
Description: A non-profit organization established to open new markets to the benefit of smaller producers and entire communities through inclusive systems and legal and regulatory approaches.
PARTNERS FOR EURO-AFRICAN GREEN ENERGY (PANGEA)
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Description: Partners for Euro-African Green Energy promotes sustainable African Bioenergy investment, policies and production.
International trade and investment are critical to securing sustainable and inclusive economic growth in developing countries. Indeed, for many countries the strategic utilization of trade and investment over the last few decades has been a central part of their development success. Yet for others, trade and investment opportunities remain largely untapped. This is, in part, caused by the complexity inherent to linking trade and investment-related policy tools to sustainable development – especially in light of increasingly complex international economic agreements such as the World Trade Organisation, Free Trade Agreements, and Bilateral Investment Treaties. Sidley’s Trade for Development Initiative addresses this challenge by giving free legal and technical advice to least developed and low-income developing countries and trade associations in areas related to trade, investment, and relevant regulations.
For additional information, please download our brochure.
Under the Trade for Development Initiative, Sidley lawyers do not provide general lists of “best practices” and policy recommendations. Rather, Sidley lawyers and economists provide custom-made, pro bono legal and technical advice responding to the particular trade and investment challenges typically faced by least developed country governments, trade associations, and their SMEs.
Specifically, under the Trade for Development Initiative, Sidley’s lawyers and economists provide the following services:
- Drafting regulations on specific trade policy and investment issues
- Reviewing laws and regulations for consistency under international economic agreements (World Trade Organization, Free Trade Agreements, Bilateral Investment Treaties)
- Analyzing different trade and investment policy options on the basis of best practices and in light of a country’s development objectives
- Assessing the economic impact of proposed trade and investment policies governments are considering
- Advising governments on how to prioritize various interest in their trade and investment negotiations, on the basis of earlier analyses conducted by Sidley lawyers
- Providing free training sessions on key legal elements of currently debated issues
- Advising on procurement laws and regulations to maximize SME participation
- Reviewing public-private partnership regulations to develop infrastructure services
- Advising on regulatory reform in the context of digital trade
- Advising on how to restructure Special Economic Zones to bolster FDI but also domestic SME participation
- Advising on how to add more value-added to a specific industry (garment, agribusiness, legumes etc.) through, for instance, WTO-consistent performance requirements
- Advising on how to better leverage existing trade preferences to gain access to market
- Advising on the legality of subsidy programs for a specific industry and suggest options for a country under international economic agreements
- Advising on compliance with SPS/TBT standards for certain products to be exported into high value markets
- Least developed countries
- Low-income developing countries
- Trade associations in developing countries
- If you would like to use our pro bono services, please write to Colette van der Ven (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will be in touch within two working days.