Paralegals working together with small businesses

As referenced in this post on Alternative funding ideas for legal empowerment, a common challenge in legal empowerment is sustainability and fundraising. During a recent exchange trip to South Africa in April 2015, we saw many different examples of community advice offices funding much of their own costs through sustainable, community-based businesses. I thought this topic deserved it’s own space and would encourage @nobel, @Juves and @Faith to add to what we observed together too.

One community advice office, Thusang Morwalo (“To make your burdens lighter…”), received free rent and support as it shared resources with a local cresh and children’s daycare service. While the daycare offered services for children of the community, there was an amazing collaboration with many of the parents bringing local justice issues to the paralegals based there.

The daycare was supported by a local non-profit foundation, which brought up a good point about working with local non-profit ngos, schools or government offices to collaborate on with work and office space.

Another example was the Orange Farm Human Rights Advice Center, which has organized a massive recycling project that now receives support from the government, a small school and a daycare. This paralegal office was so successful that the recycling and daycare projects have hired over 50 local community members to work on the projects.

And yet another example of a community advice office working on a farming project together with a local school, harvesting produce for sale at the local market.

Does anyone have any other ideas or examples of community paralegals working with community businesses to generate funds and increased sustainability?


Thank you Michael, We are planning to talk to the refugee community to see if they can start a recycling project in Dar es Salaam that is likely to get support from the government and thus facilitating refugees’ smooth local integration into Tanzanian societies. We are also planning to reach out to NGOs to talk about bakery trainings to refugee women as part of refugee women economic empowerment. By so doing doing, refugees will be seen as contributing into Tanzanian communities.


Hi, Worked as a para legal for 25 years. These days I provide cheap para legal services under my consultancy “J&E Consultancy Services”. Services include drafting court documentation, arranging title searches, incorporation of companies, associations, etc, translation Acts… It is cheap and has no profit but I do it as part of my community service work. I

work from my house with 1 laptop and a printer. My clients sit on the floor with me and we use a small homemade bench to accommodate the laptop and printer. When clients buy my toner and paper I only charge them K20 to cover electricity costs. I don’t mind but I note that there is a big requirement for my services and I would like to expand on it.

Would like expert help and financial assistance.


I already see same thing in Naga city. Paralegal from Saligan with dissabiltiy open small shop in Government office. She sell every thing from hers communities like salabad (ginger powder), vagetable,fruit and ect. The shop helps community for get new consument and make her get income to develop her family and community.And more special, the government officer is their consument. The transaction in the shop make the relation became closer. So its simple idea, no needs more money for start. And about the rent for shop, the government give fasilities too.


The eco-tourism in Palawan is run by the community. I have visited the places in Ugong Rock and San Carlos, Puerto Princesa. The community there can manage the environment into a fundraising for their livelihood. They are able to utilize local community to build the places without big intervention from the government. It is very good. They do not get big money, but they are satisfied and happy as they work based on their own capabilities without any intervention that might destroy the environment. This is one of good results of the work of Community Paralegal in those places.


Yes, i have to use my own consultancy firm to fund para legal assistance to my community. I am now building my own little office in my village to house my office at the bottom. Services I offer will include land title searches, land registration & development, drafting court documentation, researching law and advising and conveyancing.


@michaelotto indeed this is a topic of my interest. What i would like is to explore more on how they reached this level. What informed their decision to begin a baby day care and recycling business. How did they identify these activities? How did they fund the activities? How do they manage the funds and how are the funds channeled into the project? I remember during our first training @danielsesay mentioned to me of an organisation that thought of investing project funds by buying a taxi to generate more income for the project but less than two months down the line it got an accident and was written off and they could not refund the project funds. The point is how do we draw the line between a viable and non viable project? What gives returns and what doesn’t? And lastly how do we fund such businesses?


Hi Mustafa. I work for the National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices (Nadcao) in South Africa. The Orange Farm advice office is a member of our sister organisation ACAOSA. I think just to answer some of your questions, similar to Thusang Morwalo advice office, the Orange Farm community advice office (CAO) was established by a women’s project called Itsoseng ("Pick your selve’s up). Itsoseng has, for the past 20 years, leased a stand in Orange Farm with no permanent structures or service delivery points so the Department of Social Development and Agriculture and JAM South Africa erected 3 refurbished containers (the ones used for shipment of goods) on the property. Two of the containers are used by the 65 children who attend the Day Care centre run by Itsoseng.

The remaining container houses Bricks Mokolo, a community based paralegal, who runs an advice office. In addition to revenue from the creche (day-care) the community advice office is partially funded through revenue received from recycling run in the same premises. The recycling centre employs many of the residents of the surrounding community.

Nondo had requested that I organise a skype with Bricks to discuss how best to implement the recycling model where he works. I suppose @michaelotto could ask Lyttelton to help us set a video conference with software similar to Skype. Everybody who is interested in speaking to Bricks could join the call and we could have a virtual tour of the premises (with me moving around with the laptop in the yard) and then everybody could have a meeting with bricks. I hope this helps.


Oh I missed some questions. The Day Care receives subsidised funding from the Department of Social Development. It was set up by Bricks Mokolo’s wife, Zanele Mokolo, to assist unemployed women in Orange Farm by creating job opportunities through self-help programmes. It also provides on-going education and training programmes to women to promote maximum participation of women in socio-economic programmes.