BOOST UP is a three-part startup support programme organised by the Connected Hubs network and the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2) in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. BOOST UP targets startups that use technology to solve a societal challenge and are looking for skills that could help them articulate their business. The BOOST UP series comprises the Set Up online training events, Stand Up pitching competitions, and Scale Up incubation programme.

June–July 2020
Online Training


BOOST UP Set Up training provides entrepreneurs with practical tools to package their business idea and develop a pitch to attract their target market. The Set Up training is organised separately in each of the BOOST UP countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

August 2020
Pitch Competitions


At BOOST UP Stand Up, committed startups who are eager to make an impact, have a scalable business model, and want to become more investable will compete in national pitching competitions. Connected Hubs representatives will select about 10 startups per country from the Set Up participants that completed the training, and invite them to pitch at Stand Up. At the pitching competitions, a panel of expert judges will select the top startups to advance to interviews. After interviews, one to two promising startups per country will be selected to take part in the BOOST UP Scale Up incubator.

September–November 2020
Training & Bootcamp


BOOST UP Scale Up is an incubation programme for impact-driven startups eager to become more investable. Scale Up includes an online incubation programme (September–November) and an on-site bootcamp in Helsinki, Finland, in November*.

In the event that the Covid-19 crisis prevents travelling and/or organising the Bootcamp, an alternative plan will be considered.

BOOST UP 2020 Participant Criteria

We encouraged startups to apply for BOOST UP Set Up training if:

  • The startup is located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia.
  • It uses technology to solve a societal challenge in Southern Africa.
  • The entrepreneurs are eager to scale up their business and have a scalable business model.
  • The starup is developing or finalising a prototype, or have a prototype ready.
  • The startup has a minimum of two team members interested in participating.
  • The applicant is authorised to submit the application on behalf of their team.
  • The entrepreneur or their startup has not won a SAIS 2-associated national pitch competition and participated in the BOOST UP Bootcamp 2019, Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2018, or been sponsored by SAIS 2 to participate in Slush 2017.

Note: applications from female-led startups were particularly encouraged.

The BOOST UP Stand Up pitch competition participants will be selected from the Set Up training participants by the Connected Hubs network.

To be selected to pitch, a startup will be required to:

  • Have participated in the Set Up training
  • Be a registered business located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia
  • Have a prototype ready

In addition, the participants must be 18 years or above. Alternatively, if they are under 18 and selected to participate in the Scale Up incubator and Bootcamp, they must be accompanied by their guardian. The guardian will be responsible for her/his own travel costs.

A limited number of startups per country will be selected to participate in the Set Up training and the Stand Up pitch competitions.

This is how we make the selection:

  • Does the solution make a societal impact?
  • Is the solution novel in the market?
  • Does the solution have the potential to scale up?
  • Does the solution have growth potential and commercial viability?
  • Does the team show commitment and ability?
  • What is the stage of prototype development?


Download the BOOST UP flyer here for full information on the BOOST UP 2020 application process.



These exciting startups participated in BOOST UP Bootcamp and Slush 2019.

Abiri Innovations - South Africa
AGROBOT - Tanzania
Agua Contada - South Africa
Cyber Kajumo Rigs - Botswana
Eastern Manual Drilling - Zambia
Greenbelt Energy - Zambia
Guardian Gabriel - South Africa
IoT Radar - Namibia
JointPesa - Tanzania
Kalahari Honey - Botswana
Mohiri - Botswana
My Pregnancy Journey - South Africa
Sakab Holdings (Pty) Ltd - Botswana
The Lab - Namibia

SLUSH 2019

BOOST UP Bootcamp 2019 Delegation

Take a look at this brochure for more information on BOOST UP Bootcamp, the startups, the Slush side event Investing and Partnering with African Innovators, and the implementation and knowledge partners.



In 2018, SAIS 2 partnered with the Slush Global Impact Accelerator to select one promising startup per SAIS partner country. These five start-ups are all young enterprises solving a societal problem in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The startups joined Slush GIA to gain insight in topics ranging from pitching to investor relationships as well as business and product development.

Soma App - Tanzania (supported by Connected Hubs)
AgriPredict - Zambia (supported by Connected Hubs)
Zeal and Zest - Botswana (supported by Slush GIA)
Solve Namibia - Namibia (supported by Slush GIA)
Cancer Dojo - South Africa (supported by Slush GIA)

See how Mwila Kangwa from Zambia gave his winning pitch at Slush Global Impact Accelerator (GIA) Pitching Showase at Slush 2018.  

Demetrio Mowes from Namibia pitched Solve Namibia on the Slush stage as a part of the Top 10. Watch this video of his pitch.

Cancer Dojo made it to the Slush GIA Top 10. Watch how Conn Bertish from South Africa shared his inspiring story.



In 2017, SAIS 2 piloted cross-border collaboration with Botswana Innovation Hub and Fablab Namibia. The three organisations supported two startups from Namibia and three from Botswana to attend Slush 2017 in Helsinki with hub managers. The five startups took part in a two-month incubator programme with coaching sessions on pitching, business mentoring, and product development.

Phillip Sellwe, Bayon Holdings - Botswana
Phillip Sellwe, Bayon Holdings - Botswana
Kaveto Tjatjara, Worldview Technologies - Namibia
Kaveto Tjatjara, Worldview Technologies - Namibia
Vincent Van Wyk, PEBL - Namibia
Vincent Van Wyk, PEBL - Namibia
Kennedy Letsogile, EcoHub - Botswana
Kennedy Letsogile, EcoHub - Botswana
Tumelo Mapila, Focus Surveys - Botswana
Tumelo Mapila, Focus Surveys - Botswana



Do you want some extra pointers on pitching? Take a look at these resources.
How to Pitch your Startup in 3 Minutes
3 Mistakes to avoid when pitching your startup

BOOST UP 2020 Brought to You By:


Organised by

Botswana Innovation Hub
Nest Hubs
These Hands


Organised by

GEN Namibia


Organised by

Technology Innovation Agency
Mlab South Africa


Organised by

Seedspace Dar es Salaam


Organised by

Bongo Hive

BOOST UP Bootcamp 2019 Made Possible by the Support of:

These Knowledge Partners