Deal 5: GRUBB Founder & CEO on Pro Bono Legal Support Agreement

Deal 5: GRUBB Founder & CEO on Pro Bono Legal Support Agreement

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On September 24, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Karanovic & Partners had announced it entered into an agreement with Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats to provide ongoing pro bono legal support on contracts, scholarships, and copyright matters. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Caroline Roboh, Founder and CEO of Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats (GRUBB), to learn more about the matter.

CEEIHM: To start, tell us a bit about Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats and its mission.

Caroline: It’s a wonderful opportunity for me as founder of the GRUBB Foundation, to tell your readers a bit of what we do and the role that our Pro Bono lawyers have played over the years.

GRUBB was created 15 years ago to help young Roma stay at school and get a better job prospect. We started with tutoring programs. in our two centres in Serbia, in Belgrade and Nis and soon added artistic workshops, giving the children valuable soft skills and allowing their voices to be heard. In 2011 we created the GRUBB Show with the help of international artists. It toured in major theatres in several countries and an updated version will be performed in 2023. In 2015 we created Pretty Loud, the first Roma Girl Band which has attracted a lot of attention internationally.

CEEIHM: The association was founded in the UK but operates predominantly in Serbia. Why did you opt for this setup?

Caroline: Whilst our educational centers are located in Serbia, our artistic and representation activities are international. I am based in the UK, where we set up the GRUBB Forward Charity which owns GRUBB Production CIC which founded the GRUBB Foundation in Serbia. We have a transparent system linking a UK charity, with strong rules and tax advantages for donors, a CIC (Community Interest Company), which is our commercial entity, and GRUBB Fondacija which funds all our educational and artistic activities in Serbia. This way, any profit generated by the CIC goes to the Charity which donates it to the Serbian Foundation. The UK is the only country which offers a specific kind of entity for social enterprises, Community Interest Company. We are aiming to become completely sustainable within the next five years and not depend on donations. We wanted to have a long-term sustainable structure that is as efficient as possible.

CEEIHM: As we reported, Karanovic & Partners provide ongoing pro bono legal support to the organization. What type of assistance does that entail specifically?

Caroline: Karanovic and Partners have been generously helping us with our legal needs including contracts with our many partners, from the UN to local schools, employment contracts, music production and agency agreements to name a few. 

CEEIHM: Why were copyright matters relevant for your operation?

Caroline: We write and develop songs, shows, write books, and as such copyright matters are of the utmost importance for us. We are getting increasing attention worldwide with our music and Roma Women activism, we need to protect our work so the royalties and profits can go to the authors, the performers and to fund the educational programmes. The firm helps us with that.

CEEIHM: Why did you choose Karanovic & Partners as your partner in this matter?

Caroline: Senior Partners Patricia Gannon and Dejan Nikolic originally assisted me on the legal matters involved with buying a property which became the GRUBB Centre in Nis, over 15 years ago already. We were lucky to get senior management commitment to the project and the firm committed to work pro bono for us. As it’s a full services firm we get top lawyers in many practice areas supporting us. It takes a certain vision to work with a small NGO like ours. We've had, consistently over the years, a very prompt and strong support from them, making us always feel like priority clients.

We are immensely grateful for this, as we see so many small charities like us struggle and sometimes fail because they cannot afford the legal advice they need. It really does make all the difference to a small charity, to know that you are compliant with the law and you. have a competent team supporting you.

Originally reported by CEE In-House Matters.