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.

June–July 2021
Pitching Training

Set Up

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.

July–August 2021
National Pitch Competitions

Stand Up

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.

September–December 2021
Training & Bootcamp

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.



We encourage you to apply for the BOOST UP Set Up training if:

  • Your startup is a registered business located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia.
  • Technology and innovation play a key role in your business model to address a societal challenge in Southern Africa. “Technology and innovation” here includes, but is not limited to: 
    • Applications
    • Internet of Things
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Drone technology
    • Renewable Energy and Circular Economy
    • Smart City/Smart Environment
    • Big Data
    • Communications (e.g. internet connectivity services) 
    • Anything that uses technology and innovation to improve a product or service in any way. Please look at the previous years’ finalists for examples of the type of startups we accept.
  • You have a scalable business model.
  • You are developing or finalising a prototype, or have a prototype ready.
  • Your startup has a minimum of two team members interested in participating.
  • You/your startup have not won a SAIS 2-associated national pitch competition and participated in the BOOST UP Bootcamp in 2020 or 2019, Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2018, or been sponsored by SAIS 2 to participate in Slush 2017.

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

BOOST UP Stand Up Eligibility

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, your 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, 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.

BOOST UP Set Up and Stand Up 2021 Selection Criteria

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 will 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?


BOOST UP 2021 Flyer

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.

94 Innovations – South Africa
Agelvipa – Namibia
Anathoth Solutions – South Africa
Aquatech Solutions – Zambia
Coachpedia – Namibia
Connect Africa – Namibia
Dawa Health – Zambia
Doctors E-Consult – Botswana
First-Aid Counselling – Botswana
Huduma Smart – Tanzania
Hydro-IT – South Africa
Leverage Point – Botswana
Medikea – Tanzania
Nature's Nectar – Zambia
NovFeed – Tanzania
Scoot Logistics – Botswana
Sustainable Operations Group – South Africa
Uku'hamba – South Africa

The BOOST UP Final Pitch Competition

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.

You can watch the stream on playback here, on our YouTube Channel, or on our Facebook Page.



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



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.

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

BOOST UP 2021 brought to you by:


Organised by

Botswana Innovation Hub
Nest Hubs
These Hands
Udugu Institute


Organised by

GEN Namibia
UNDP Accelerator Lab Namibia


Organised by

Technology Innovation Agency
mLab South Africa
SA Innovation Summit
Setup a Startup
Mashup Community Development
Dream Factory Foundation


Organised by

Seedspace Dar es Salaam


Organised by


BOOST UP 2020 was made possible by

Our Knowledge Partners and Sponsors



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