Connected Hubs – BOOST UP

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Are you a startup entrepreneur eager to learn how to better pitch your business and become more investable? Is your startup using technology to make a societal impact in Southern Africa? Are you based in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia?

BOOST UP 2020 wants you to apply for Set Up.


BOOST UP is a three-part startup support program organized 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 articulate their business. The BOOST UP series comprises the Set Up online training events, Stand Up pitching competitions, and Scale Up incubation program.


June – July 2020: Online Training

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 organized separately in each of the BOOST UP countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.

August 2020: Pitch Competitions

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 pitching competitions. Connected Hubs representatives will select about 10 startups per country from the Set Up participants that completed the training, and invite them to pitch at Stand Up. At the pitching competitions, a panel of expert judges will select the top startups to advance to interviews. After interviews, one to two promising startups per country will be selected to take part in the BOOST UP Scale Up incubator.

September–November 2020: Training & Bootcamp
BOOST UP Scale Up is an incubation program for impact-driven startups eager to become more investable. Scale Up includes an online incubation program (September–November) and an on-site bootcamp in Helsinki, Finland, in November*.

*In the event that the Covid-19 crisis prevents traveling and/or organizing the Bootcamp, an alternative plan will be considered.

BOOST UP Set Up 2020

Call for Applications

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

  • Your startup is located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia.
  • You use technology to solve a societal challenge in Southern Africa.
  • You are eager to scale up your business and have a scalable business model.
  • You are developing or finalizing a prototype, or have a prototype ready.
  • Your startup has a minimum of two team members interested in participating.
  • You are authorized to submit the application on behalf of the team.
  • You/your startup have not won a SAIS 2-associated national pitch competition and participated in the BOOST UP Bootcamp 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.

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.

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?


May 31, 2020
Program dates May 7, 2020: 9:00
OrganizerSouthern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS)
Website Visit website
Targets Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia
Sectors EdTech, HealthTech, ICT