Four hundred startups applied to participate in BOOST UP 2020 in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. After months of training in pitching and good business practices, 18 startups made it to the final that took place on 13 November 2020.
BOOST UP is a three-stage startup programme coordinated by the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2) and the SAIS 2 Connected Hubs network in the five above-mentioned countries. The BOOST UP programme aims to provide training and networking opportunities to early-stage startups that use technology to address societal issues, and that wish to gain access to knowledge necessary to grow and scale up their businesses. The programme comprises Set Up training sessions, Stand Up national pitch competitions, and Scale Up, an online incubator and bootcamp for the finalists chosen after each of the Stand Up events.
In previous years, large parts of BOOST UP were held live on location in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Finland, but travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic required for most of the programme to move online. As a result, BOOST UP 2020 culminated in a live pitch competition that was broadcast live from the five partner countries.
The Winners Announced
Judges from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Finland scored the startups based on their pitches, and these scores were tallied up at the end of the competition.
The following prizes were up for grabs:
- Main Prize: A trip to Finland for two team members of the winning startup to meet with relevant Finnish innovation ecosystem role players, sponsored by Demola Global
- Top Three: USD 5,000 in AWS credits sponsored by AWS Activate, offered to the top three startups
- SLUSH prize for the best startup in each country: Access to Node by SLUSH, an international investment matchmaking platform
- Think Africa Prize: A package of prizes ranging from books to an online consultation and assumption testing session offered to the startup that best embodies Think Africa’s values
The main prize went to Dawa Health from Zambia for their platform offering remote and self-monitoring maternal health services to expecting mothers, providing them access to medical care at this crucial time.
The AWS prizes went to Dawa Health, Huduma Smart, and Nature’s Nectar.
Huduma Smart from Tanzania offers training to domestic workers and provides a safe job market for them via their online platform, while also providing them with an enrollment and identification platform, health insurance, and wage lobbying.
Nature’s Nectar from Zambia distributes locally and sustainably produced top bar beehives to rural farmers, and then acts as the guaranteed buyer of all honey produced from these hives.
The best startups in each country were: Doctors E-Consult from Botswana, Agelvipa from Namibia, SOG Water Solutions from South Africa, Huduma Smart from Tanzania (which also won the Think Africa Prize), and Dawa Health from Zambia.
Doctors E-Consult is a doctor–patient consultation room on your phone or computer that allows you to make bookings instantly. Their mobile application houses doctors from all over Botswana, ranging from general practitioners to cardiologists and other specialists, and patients can book virtual appointments with their preferred doctor.
Agelvipa combines ecommerce and women empowerment in Namibia by providing an online marketplace for local products produced by micro and informal vendors. This platform exposes their products and services to the wider market and sells their products on their behalf.
SOG Water Solutions develops and builds machines that harvest water vapour from the air to produce pristine drinking water, using only electricity to capture the vapour and condense it into liquid form.