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Vivek Maru

Started Namati in 2011 to grow the movement for legal empowerment around the world. 2003-07, co-founded and co-directed the Sierra Leonean organization Timap for Justice, which has been recognized by the International Crisis Group, Transparency International and former US President Jimmy Carter as a pioneering model for delivering justice services in the context of a weak state and a plural legal system. 2008-11, Senior Counsel in the Justice Reform Group of the World Bank. Work focused on rule of law reform and governance, primarily in West Africa and South Asia. Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Named a "legal rebel", American Bar Association; Ashoka Fellow. With Namati and the Global Legal Empowerment Network, received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship (2016).

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Non-profit Social Enterprise
Social Protection; Civic Participation; Justice and Law; Human Rights
Areas of Impact
ASEAN, South Asia, Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, USA, Bangladesh, Liberia, Myanmar, Mozambique, India, Kenya


Billions of people live outside the protection of the law. They can be driven from their land, extorted by officials, and intimidated by violence. Namati is dedicated to placing the power of the law in the hands of people.

Namati trains and deploys community legal workers who work with communities – also known as barefoot lawyers or community paralegals – to advance justice. Together with grassroots partners in 10 countries, Namati has supported clients (direct beneficiaries) to protect community lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. Paralegals are trained in basic law and in skills like mediation, organizing, education and advocacy. They treat their clients as empowered citizens rather than victims requiring an expert service. Paralegals rigorously track data on every case, from the steps the clients take and which laws they invoke to the way institutions respond and whether bribes are requested in the process. Together with their clients, Namati uses this information to generate evidence-based proposals for policy change and to advocate for systemic changes that affect millions of people – such as stronger protections for the land rights of women in Sierra Leone or better procedures for the enforcement of environmental law in India.

Namati deploys several strategies to achieve systemic change: high-level advocacy, public awareness campaigns, and capacity building of paralegals at the grassroots level. They share their insights and learning in the form of articles, manuals, short videos, and illustrated guides for practitioners and communities. Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, the world's largest community of grassroots justice practitioners and advocates. This network of more than 1,400 groups and over 5,000 individual members from every region in the world learn from one another and collaborate to bring justice everywhere. Namati fosters learning and collaboration across this community through an online discussion platform and selective in-person exchanges. The network's virtual hub hosts the largest collection of resources for legal empowerment practitioners.


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