Special contributions from SEED affiliates
The global law firm Hogan Lovells became a SEED Associate in 2008 as part of the firm's drive to broaden its pro bono practice into the area of international social entrepreneurship. The firm built up an expertise in the issues affecting social entrepreneurs over a period of 5 years working with other NGOs in the sector but the programme developed by SEED opened up new opportunities for the firm, "This has allowed us to apply our professional expertise to start-ups and a chance to see how our advice can make a real practical difference at a grass roots level." says Yasmin Waljee, International Pro Bono Manager. "Additionally, we have been able to play to our strengths as we have a network of 45 international offices".
Hogan Lovells' practical support of the SEED Initiative has extended to the depths of the Colombian jungle. Besides providing advice from its offices in London, New York and Alicante, the firm has now sent two of its newly qualified lawyers on funded placements to Oro Verde, the pioneering programme that sources socially- and environmentally- responsible precious metals, and was a SEED Gold Winner in 2009. In supporting small-scale, artisanal miners in the Chocó bioregion, Oro Verde is both countering the popular myth that 'El Dorado' need necessarily be a place of exploitation and cruelty, and simultaneously helping to transform Colombia's image across the world.
Hogan Lovells is proud of its involvement with the programme, which has ranged from advising on brand protection and trading terms to negotiating commercial contracts with buyers. The firm looks forward to assisting Oro Verde in its expansion both within the region and into foreign markets.
Inevitably there are major challenges that are faced by start-ups, more so if you are based in a non-OECD countries, if we are to really achieve a breakthrough in terms of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, we need more support for programme like SEED who seek out an identify those that potentially will be the leaders of the future in sustainable development. It is a privilege to be part of the programme of assistance offered to SEED winners.
- Yasmin Waljee -