Ishishini Lethu

Small businesses and start-ups can make use of our pro bono corporate legal services through our Ishishini Lethu Project.

Launched in August 2013, the project creates a support system for emerging businesses working to establish themselves. It also allows our commercial lawyers to contribute to the communities we operate in according to their areas of expertise. Since the inception of the project, we have serviced a total of 170 small businesses.

Through our Ishishini Lethu project, we partner with non-profit organizations who can refer clients in need of legal services.

Our partners are
  • – partnering with private law firms in the delivery of free legal services
  • Enablis – empowering and supporting small business through their entrepreneur development model
  • Business Information Centre of South Africa (BICSA) – providing business development support and customised solutions to Soweto’s entrepreneurs
  • South African Business Resource Institute (SABRI) – facilitating access to business resources for small and medium enterprises to contribute to their growth, sustainability and, ultimately, create jobs
  • Alexandra Chamber of Commerce – A non-profit organisation that serves the small business sector in Alexandra, Johannesburg
  • Shape eKasi Entrepreneurs – A nonprofit organisation that develops township entrepreneurs by hosting conferences and other events that provide training, development and access to information and finance
  • Technoserve – An international nonprofit organisation that works with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive enterprises in business, industries and on farms
  • Adams & Adams – A leading intellectual property (IP) law firm based in South Africa

We consult with the small businesses that qualify for legal assistance at the Ishishini Lethu advice clinic. Here, we have helped small businesses and start-ups – ranging from events coordinators and butcheries, to small manufacturers and gardening services – with a variety of matters.

Examples of our work include

eKasi is slang for township or informal settlement. The #Shape eKasi Entrepreneurship Conference is an annual event organised by the eKasi Entrepreneurship Movement – a not for profit company dedicated to improving townships and rural areas in Southern Africa. In recent years, many successful entrepreneurs have grown out of these areas – coming up with socially innovative solutions to many local challenges. These men and women need support, incubation, funding, mentorship, skills and partnerships to succeed further. Our Ishishini Lethu project offers legal advice to many eKasi Entrepreneurs.
In November 2013, our Cape Town office participated in the #Shape eKasi Entrepreneurship Conference in Khayelitsha. Themed “A new breed of Business Leaders”, approximately 250 small businesses from Khayelitsha attended. The conference aimed to create a community of supportive entrepreneurs, by giving them access to opportunities and information on funding, mentorship and incubation programmes. In addition to presenting, our lawyers were on-hand to give pro bono legal advice.
The Alexandra Chamber of Commerce invited us to participate in a formalization workshop – “Turning your ideas into a business” - for 30 artists from Alexandra. The workshop was hosted in November 2013 in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry. We participated by promoting the corporate pro bono legal services offered through our Ishishini Lethu project. Along with colleagues from Adams & Adams we presented on intellectual property and how to protect one’s ideas.
Ishishini Lethu was launched in August 2013 in Soweto, in collaboration with Business Information Centre South Africa, a Soweto based non-profit organisation servicing the small business community of Soweto. Approximately 450 small businesses attended a seminar on general corporate legal issues. Thereafter our lawyers provided corporate legal advice to the business owners.
In May 2014 we partnered with the Bandwidth Barn to promote our pro bono services to around 20 small businesses from Cape Town and its surrounds. We also held an onsite legal clinic where our lawyers provided pro bono legal corporate advice to businesses. Many of the businesses later formalised their pro bono applications for further assistance.
At the invitation of the Department of Tourism, Cape Town, we participated in an outreach to around 200 women entrepreneurs at an event held at the Cape Town Centre of the Book in honour of Women's Day. We covered topics of mentorship, procurement, tax and legal matters relating to small businesses.
After taking part in the Alexandra Chamber of Commerce’s construction workshop, we noticed the need the small businesses had for more enduring information. Our specialist construction law lawyers set to work to write our first pro bono publication: A Guide to Construction Contracts. The publication gives small businesses information on the legislation and legal concepts that affect them and useful information on contracts.
In June 2014 we took part in the Construction Business Workshop hosted by the Alexandra Chamber of Commerce. Our Construction Practice presented on construction contracts to around 60 small construction companies from the area. The workshop focussed on how these businesses could approach and manage their construction contracts in such a way as to enforce their rights and minimize their risks.