Free legal service for Western Cape business owners | Advertising Feature | Small Business Connect

Attorneys from Bowman Gilfillan provides business owners with free legal advice.

FOLLOWING the success of a number of similar programmes last year, small businesses can now apply for a free legal service in Cape Town.

The pro bono legal service was announced in February 2014 by local law firm Bowman Gilfillan as well as the Bandwidth Barn.

The free professional legal service, Isihishini Lethu (which means ‘our business’) initiative, is a partnership programme designed to assist small business owners to cope with legal jargon and policies.

Every second Thursday of every month, Bowman Gilfillan commercial lawyers will hold individual consultations with various small or start-up businesses.

The law firm started this service as a pilot project in September 2013 and has now partnered with the Bandwidth Barn, a non-profit business development organisation, to hold sessions in Cape Town.

A similar programme was held at the #Shape eKasi Entrepreneurial Conference in 2012, supported by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Since then, the outreach programme has assisted dozens of businesses in different sectors such as manufacturing, communications, retail and events coordination, to name a few.

To be considered for a consultation, business owners must make appointments with the Bandwidth Barn for the two-hour face-to-face sessions.

At a recent event, small businesses in the province, specifically those operating in townships and rural areas, admitted to sometimes battling with various legal issues.

An apparent lack of proper planning and legal know-how meant that entrepreneurs failed to seek legal advice.

Matthews Mfubu, founder and director of Khayelitsha-based BlackReign Communications, says he attended one of the sessions by chance during a business conference last year.

“Our company was only two months old when I got advice from the clinic. We were struggling to get affordable advice on matters pertaining to contract agreements, staff management and invoicing.

Because we had not yet made profit, we could not afford to consult with expensive legal firms,” he says.

Mfubu says he was advised on these areas and has since been able to improve his relationships with clients because “I now know what to include and exclude when working with contracts and staff”.

To ensure that participating businesses have an opportunity to get a consultation, applications are evaluated every month.

The free legal sessions are expected to run for the rest of the year.

Application forms are available at the Bandwidth Barn, Cape Town.