Many have ventured in bringing hubs together and some have succeeded. However, not many have been able to create concrete collaboration between the hubs. SAIS does that with Connected Hubs.

SAIS 2 facilitates improved networks between innovation actors within Southern Africa through Connected Hubs. The purpose of Connected Hubs is to build a community and facilitate knowledge exchange by connecting innovation ecosystem actors for a joint cause: enhanced entrepreneurship support and regional connectivity. The Connected Hubs network aims to share best practices in innovation support and further build a networked community of innovation actors in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). After a successful pilot in 2018, the network grew from 10 organisations to 20 member organisations across six countries.

By the end of 2019, Connected Hubs has built bridges between 20 business support organisations across seven countries, supported over 500 early-stage entrepreneurs, and strengthened 24 early-stage, impact-driven startups. Overall, participating hubs have strengthened their skills in startup coaching and regional collaboration.


Connected Hubs is a network of Southern African innovation support organisations with linkages to international innovation ecosystems.


With a shared goal of enabling and facilitating the development of early-stage entrepreneurs, we have embarked upon a journey to collaborate to share best practices.


The Connected Hubs members are from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia, the broader SADC Region and beyond.






Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Making a Difference

Startups as the New Superheroes


Connected Hubs supports early-stage entrepreneurship in Southern Africa by organising the BOOST UP startup support programme.

SAIS 2 Connected Hubs provides training and knowledge and offers opportunities for networking to startups using technology to solve societal problems. Startups as the New Super Heroes – Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Making a Difference presents the entrepreneurial journeys of various startups that Connected Hubs has supported in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. These young founders’ stories serve as inspiration to others and provide further insight to funders, sponsors, and policymakers on the challenges experienced by early-stage startups in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. The publications also highlight the opportunities that instruments such as SAIS 2 can offer for startups in terms of networking and partnerships in addition to finance.

Download all publications below 


Good Practices in Startup Support and Hub Operations

Stronger Hubs Stronger Startups

Entrepreneurship plays an important role in tackling the high rate of youth unemployment in Southern Africa, and is often seen as a potentially powerful catalyst for economic growth and well-being. However, it is often challenging for the region’s youth to take the entrepreneurial path. Innovation support organisations such as tech hubs and innovation labs play an important role in supporting entrepreneurship by helping aspiring entrepreneurs and startups to acquire knowledge, skills, and resources needed to thrive, while also building entrepreneurial communities for stronger innovation ecosystems.

The Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS 2) Programme and the SAIS 2 Connected Hubs believe in supporting entrepreneurship and strengthening innovation ecosystems through the expansion of knowledge and the promotion of cross-border collaboration between innovation actors in Southern Africa and internationally. As part of these activities, we share knowledge and best practices on startup support and innovation hub operations within the Connected Hubs network, and facilitate practical collaboration opportunities to support entrepreneurship.

In this publication, we wish to share the lessons learnt and best practices for supporting startups with a wider audience.



Innovation events are important components of every innovation ecosystems adding value to role-players efforts of to network, to gain exposure and to create diverse platforms facilitating learning and timely sharing of knowledge.

An overview and definition of Ínclusive Innovation

Professor Mikko Koria, Associate Dean of Enterprise, Professor of Design Innovations, Director of  the Institute of Design Innovation, Loughborough University, London

Listen here 

An in depth introduction to  Slush, one of the Europe’s largest start up and  tech events organised annually in Helsinki, Finland which sees over 40,000 attendants.

Aino Piirtola , Head of Global Impact Accelerator (GIA)

View here 

Insight on the components of designing a tech conference as a  unique experience. Anssi Laurila, Creative Producer, Slush

Listen here  

Practical guide on the key elements of event management for large scale conferences Margaretha van Schalkwyk, Operations Director, SA Innovation Summit

Download here

An introduction to  the branding philosophy of Slush with practical guidelines on how it can be done.

Jesse Pyy, Chief Marketing Officer, Slush

Listen here

Download here 

Basics of  marketing for a local innovation event, and provides tips on partnerships.

Dr. Audrey Verhaeghe, President, SA Innovation Summit