08 March 2019

Connected Hubs Geared for Growth in 2019

Connected Hubs Geared for Growth in 2019

SAIS Connected Hubs grows when new members join the Network of Doers, bringing the total to 19 member organisations. The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund grantees who support startups have joined the network, which aims to provide a sustainable way for the top innovation actors in Southern Africa to connect, collaborate and create stronger linkages between innovation ecosystems. The network now comprises of the following innovation actors: BongoHive, Botswana Innovation Hub, BuniHub, Commission on Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dololo Namibia, Injini, MashUp, mHub, mLab Southern Africa, Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII), National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST), National Technology Business Center (NTBC), NestHubs,  Slush Global Impact Accelerator (GIA), South Africa Innovation Summit, Southern Africa Startup Awards, OneBio, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and WECREATE Zambia.

Inclusive Entrepreneurship Across Borders: Peer-Learning, Startup Support and International Connections

Based on lessons learned in the pilot phase in 2018, Connected Hubs continues in 2019 to facilitate connections between hubs supporting entrepreneurship in Southern Africa and beyond. “We see Connected Hubs as a mechanism to support the build up of a more close community of innovation actors within the SADC region, with international linkages”, states SAIS 2 Lead Expert Ilari Patrick Lindy.  The theme for this year’s peer-learning sessions is Inclusive Entrepreneurship across borders and the topics will revolve around best practices in hub operations and startup support.  The activities of Connected Hubs will include knowledge sharing both online and on-site, allowing for meaningful connections to be built between the members. Additionally, local events in startup support will be organised to put those lessons in practice, directly benefitting early-stage startups in the SADC region. 

“All members have one thing in common - the aim to build stronger startups. By joining forces, early-stage startups can be even better catered for in the future thanks to a networked community of innovation actors.” says SAIS 2 International Programme Officer and Connected Hubs coordinator, Auri Evokari.

Knowledge Partners to Join for Stronger Startup Support  

The content for the peer-learning sessions is provided in-kind by members themselves as well as the six knowledge partners invited to share their perspectives in startup support. SAIS 2 welcomes its partner Hivos Southern Africa to Connected Hubs. Since the 1990s Hivos has supported, seed-funded and built more than a hundred hubs around the African continent. With various forms of support tools, Hivos contributes to the Connected Hubs network to accelerate the role that hubs have in transforming the ways in which people work, creating new types of jobs and reinvigorating the cultural life of their cities and beyond. 

 SAIS 2 fosters linkages between the SADC region and Finland and is happy to have on board four Finnish experts as knowledge partners of Connected Hubs. Futurice is a new breed of innovation consultancy with digital at its core, and the Futurice team will share tips in startup development using the Lean Service Creation they have developed. Training in pitching will be provided by Walid O. El Cheikh, an experienced pitching trainer, who is currently writing his book “Pitching for Life”. Siili Solutions helps create better business and meaningful digital experiences by offering a full range of solutions for digitalization challenges, and they will provide valuable insight for Connected Hubs into design thinking methods for startup development. The Shortcut will share experiences in incorporating impact measurement as a part of a hub’s business model. Furthermore, SAIS 2 is pleased to have on board a knowledge partner from Africa with MEST Africa sharing practical tips in incubating startups in Africa.

Opportunities for Startups from Southern Africa 

SAIS 2 continues to partner with Slush Global Impact Accelerator in 2019 in their pursuit to support impact startups and showcase the exciting business opportunities in emerging markets. This year Slush GIA, the Shortcut and SAIS 2 will collaborate to strengthen early-stage startups to become investable through online and on-site coaching, leading up to the Slush GIA Bootcamp in Helsinki in November 2019. In 2018 three of the five startups representing SAIS 2 partner countries rocked the Top 10 of Slush GIA Pitching Showcase during Slush 2018, the tech conference taking Finland by storm annually. Learn about the Slush GIA activities of SAIS 2 by checking out the video below and get inspired by one Zambian entrepreneur’s journey to the top as AgriPredict won the showcase. Watch this space to learn more about upcoming opportunities for startups via Connected Hubs.