This article originally was published in the June 2019 newsletter of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.
Access Afya is a data-driven primary social enterprise delivering easy and affordable healthcare to residents of Nairobi's informal settlements through a chain of micro-clinics, diagnostic centers and pharmacies.
Founder Melissa Menke started Access Afya to disrupt the unsafe, informal health sector operating in slums, replacing it with healthcare that is convenient, affordable and effective. To achieve its mission, Access Afya has developed and implemented technology solutions to support their operations, automate patient conversations, measure clinical and operational excellence, and increase quality improvement through a digital training academy.
Access Afya came to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation seeking advice on the best corporate structure to achieve its social mission while attracting capital as they prepared for a Series Seed funding round. By connecting Access Afya with Lex Mundi member firm Womble Bond Dickinson (USA, North Carolina), the Foundation was able to secure critical pro bono legal support for Access Afya at a pivotal juncture. Not only did Kristina Schwartz, the attorney leading the firm’s efforts, help with the corporate conversion initially flagged, she and her colleagues at Womble went above and beyond to advise on a new corporate structure and set up Access Afya for fundraising success. Schwartz’s efforts were supported by her Womble Bond Dickinson partners Jane Jeffries Jones on employee benefits matters and Mike Cashin on tax matters.
“Kristina from Womble helped me set-up a Public Benefit Corporation, which makes it clear to our investors and team members that we are committed to achieving social returns through our business,” said Menke. “Her advice on this structure was instrumental in us going down this path and Kristina helped me every step of the way – from incorporating our Public Benefit Corporation, to creating an employee stock option plan, to negotiating with investors and closing our Series Seed equity raise. As a social enterprise you can't always afford to have someone strong on your side, which I was lucky enough to have in Womble Bond Dickinson because of the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation.”
“It is a privilege to work with committed social entrepreneurs like Melissa,” said Schwartz. “We really collaborated on the most effective way to approach Access Afya’s restructuring and capital raising, always keeping the integrity of the company’s mission front of mind. It’s a great result when you close the round and both the investors and the company are satisfied and just eager to get to work on growing the business. I think that happened here and we at Womble are thrilled to have had the opportunity to help move the business forward.”