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 pitch their businesses and become investment-ready. The BOOST UP series comprises the Set Up training events, Stand Up pitching competitions, and Scale Up incubation programme and bootcamp.
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.
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 pitch competitions. Connected Hubs representatives will select startups in each country from the Set Up participants that completed the training and invite them to pitch at Stand Up. At the pitch competitions, a panel of expert judges will select the top startups to advance to interviews. After interviews, the most promising startups will be selected to take part in BOOST UP Scale Up.
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–December*.
*In the event that COVID-19 restrictions prevent travelling and/or organising the Bootcamp, an alternative plan will be considered.
Note: applications from female-led startups are particularly encouraged.
The BOOST UP Stand Up pitch competition participants will be selected from the Set Up training participants by the Connected Hubs network.
In addition, you must be 18 years or above. Alternatively, if you are under 18 and selected to the Scale Up incubator and Bootcamp, you must be accompanied by your 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.
Download this year's BOOST UP Flyer for details on the 2021 call for applications and eligibility criteria.
These were the finalists for BOOST UP 2020.
The final stage of BOOST UP 2020 took place on 13 November 2020. Eighteen tech-driven early-stage impact startups from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia competed to be crowned the winner of the regional pitch competition.
These exciting startups participated in BOOST UP Bootcamp and Slush 2019.
In 2018, SAIS 2 partnered with the Slush Global Impact Accelerator to select one promising startup per SAIS 2 partner country. These five startups were 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.
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.