In countries such as Kenya that lack a coordinated emergency response system, rescue teams lose precious seconds trying to efficiently locate their patients. Enter Flare, coined the “Uber for ambulances,” a Nairobi-based healthcare technology company that has built 911 infrastructure and operations for Kenya and other countries in need of emergency systems. Flare’s platform brings together hundreds of ambulances across the country under one umbrella, operating an integrated dispatch center to receive and triage all emergency requests. As the startup sought to expand its reach and save as many lives as possible, the founders turned to Sidley’s lawyers for counsel via the firm’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, which supports the growth of small- and medium-size businesses in developing countries.
“With the help of our knowledge and resources, we are able to equip emerging enterprises with a firm legal foundation to support their growth into meaningful conduits for societal change, and that is an incredible thing to be a part of,” said Tamara Sonenshein, an associate with the firm’s M&A practice in Chicago.
The firm’s Geneva office engaged Capsule Global (the parent company of Flare) as a pro bono client and built out the Sidley team, which included partner David Zampa, also in Chicago, as well as over 15 lawyers across seven offices who collectively contributed more than 1,500 hours of pro bono service to Capsule Global. Sidley represented Capsule Global in its Series A financing round, led by Blue Haven Initiative, an impact investment organization that focuses on early-stage energy, fintech, and logistics companies in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Series A financing was the culmination of close to a year of advising Capsule Global on a reorganization of its corporate structure and matters relating to corporate governance, tax, technology transactions, and employee benefits and executive compensation. The financing provided Capsule Global with the capital it needed to continue its operations and grow its business.
“The Sidley team was invaluable to us throughout 2020 as we navigated and executed major milestones,” said Caitlin Dolkart, Director of Capsule Global. “Their skill, experience, and commitment left us in an extremely strong place to grow from, and their team will always be part of ours. We are incredibly grateful for the hours beyond hours they spent with us and the team to get us to where we are today.”
“For transactional lawyers, the legal services Sidley provides through the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono program are directly relevant to our practice,” said Sonenshein. “Pro bono projects present an opportunity for lawyers to take on a variety of unique assignments and gain substantive experience.”
Since its launch, Flare has been so successful that it was named one of the top 100 inventions of 2020 by Time magazine. Whereas Kenyans previously needed to call hundreds of phone numbers to reach an ambulance, they now dial one; and instead of waiting hours, it now takes an average of 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on scene, thanks to Flare’s technology and centralized emergency dispatch center.
“Being able to contribute to the company’s mission and purpose inspired me,” Sonenshein said. “I became immensely close with the founders and personally invested in the success of their startup,” she shared. “I thoroughly enjoyed being their trusted adviser, collaborating with colleagues across offices, and learning about other areas of law outside of my daily practice.”