Project information

The San IPR Project

Time is running out for the San who are facing cultural extinction.

We aim to create an IPR Centre in Kimberley, South Africa, to form a resource to develop and strengthen the capacity of the San people to fully understand, manage and utilise their heritage and intellectual property rights.

3 years

Charity information: The Protimos Educational Trust

The Protimos Educational Trust logo
  • Need


    IPR are all the San have. Unlike some other indigenous communities, San people do not have any land rights or mineral rights, or any other means of lifting themselves out of poverty.

    The San hold traditional knowledge in some 15 plants, including the Hoodia Gordonii plant, where they are already recognised as primary knowledge holders and entitled to 6% of royalties from all Hoodia derived products, worth billions to the global market. Royalties which they have yet to receive.


    By creating an IPR Centre we can form a hub where San people can learn how their Intellectual Property Rights and traditional knowledge systems can be used as a powerful tool for econmic development, enabling the San to advocate for their own futures.

    The Centre will house the salaried, local legal team, put together to ensure the San receive the royalities they are owed, providing a steady flow of income so they can begin lifting themselves from poverty, and protect their cultural identity.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Strenghten the San's capacity to further the intellectual property rights and interests of the San


    » Create the San IPR Centre in Kimberley, which will house the legal team and host at least 2 interactive workshops a year for community members.
    » Investigate further potential commercial agreements based on the San's Intellectual Property Rights.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the San people receiving a considerable and steady income stream from the Hoodia royalties they are entitled to, enabling them to lift themselves from poverty.

    Aim 2

    Address Intellectual Property Rights as a potential economic resource on a regional basis


    » Develop an archive to collect data including research in to other plants where traditional knowledge is held including Rooibos and Honeybush Tea.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the San developing the capacity to use the law for themselves, to protect other aspects of their IPR, which are currently exploited by a range of players.

    Aim 3

    Set a precedent to encourage and enable others to follow


    » Recruit the legal team who will represent the San. The team will consist of one practicing lawyer, two local junior lawyers and an administrator.

    What success will look like

    Success will be use of the law becoming visible as a tool by which further exploitation and impoverishment can be challenged by the San and other indigenous communities.

  • Impact


    San people's knowledge of their wider IPRs and their increased capacity to protect them, will help ensure they derive future benefits from them.
    There will be trained lawyers who will be able to advocate for their communities beyond the life span of this project and the Hoodia case, and the extensive knowledge, expertise and body of work embodied in our partner Roger Chennells at the San Hoodia Trust will be safeguarded and passed on to future generations.


    Significant success has already been achieved on behalf of the San with little institutional support. The Hoodia case has become the most famous international precedent of indigenous peoples assertion of IPR within the Convention for Biological Diversity. Because a benefit sharing agreement is already in place, it is likely we will be successful in getting the San the income they are owed. Finding the right location for the Centre that community members can easily reach could be a possible risk.


    Donors will receive an annual detailed report on activity and progress. Donors will also receive regular updates at a frequency determined by the donor, and we will communicate any necessary changes to the project plans as they happen.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £416,601

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      Amount Heading Description
      £120,000 Salary Lead lawyer salary for 3 years
      £54,000 Salary Local associate lawyer salary for 3 years
      £54,000 Salary Local associate lawyer salary for 3 years
      £57,546 Rent IPR Centre building rent for 3 years
      £30,000 Outreach Community outreach including workshops over 3 years
      £45,000 Legal costs Contingency legal costs over 3 years
      £25,555 Infrastructure Library, archiving system, IT and furniture
      £30,500 External assessor Evaluate outcomes and impact. This budget line also includes 1 year salary for an administrator
  • Background


    The San are one of the 14 extant ancestral population clusters from which all known modern humans evolved. Originally their territory spanned from Angola to South Africa, their numbers estimated at 300,000. Through the centuries, their territories and nomadic way of life have been eroded away, their numbers diminished to around 100,000. We are working with San in the Kimberley area, where South Africa's first diamond discoveries had a profound effect on the country's history and economy.


    The benefit sharing agreement set up in 2003 will see income from Hoodia royalties being divided equally among all San people, so if we are successful at ensuring they receive all the income they are due, around 100,000 will benefit, communities will receive significant revenue.

    Eventually we hope that the Centre will be able to assist other indigenous people's and cover property rights pertaining to all cultural expressions, including music and art and not just those related to biodiversity.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Protimos' model is, as far as we're aware, unique. We spend two to three years in-country, training young lawyers from marginalised communities to negotiate for local people’s legal rights and to take cases to court. The model is sustainable because we set up a salaried legal team to represent the community, that can continue to represent the community after Protimos has moved on. We don't do 'parachute litigation', which is why we were asked to help the San by their representative.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Roger Chennells, Founding Director, The San Hoodia Trust

    Int. renowned SA lawyer who has spent many years working with the San, who until now has been the only lawyer authorised by the San to represent them.

    Fiona Darroch, Founding Director, Protimos

    Fiona will drive the project forward alongside Roger Chennells, providing the legal muscle and spotlight needed to see the San receive their income.