Boost up
The BOOST UP 2020 call for applications opened on 8 May and runs until the end of the month

Skills development and networking programme open to early-stage startups trying to solve societal problems using technology

Coordinated by the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), Connected Hubs announces that the BOOST UP 2020 startup series is now taking applications.

12. May 2020

Earlier this month the call went out to early stage entrepreneurs across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region who are seeking support and practical tools to make their startups more investable. The opportunity to participate in BOOST UP online training is open to outstanding startups that aim to use technology to solve a societal challenge. 

BOOST UP is a three-part series of activities in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia providing startups with knowledge and training to scale up. It is an initiative of the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), a NIRAS-implemented regional project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Finland supporting the growth of new businesses through strengthened innovation ecosystems and cross-border collaboration among innovation role-players in the SADC region. 

SAIS 2's Connected Hubs - a network of innovation-support organisations across Southern Africa - is looking for startups interested in gaining important skills (especially how to pitch their business) and networking with new people who might be able to help them on their startup journey. Successful applicants will be put through training during Set Up, and the best startups from this stage will be selected to participate in the Stand Up pitch competition for a chance to represent their countries during the BOOST UP bootcamp.


Startups that are chosen will participate in the online Set Up training for a few weeks in June or July. Training will focus on pitching and may include a few other skills/ topics deemed relevant by the organisation hosting the event in each partner country.

Startups are encouraged to apply for the BOOST UP Set Up training if they:

✔️ are located in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, or Zambia,

✔️ use technology to solve a societal challenge in Southern Africa,

✔️ are eager to scale up their business and have a scalable business model,

✔️ are developing or finalising a prototype, or have a prototype ready, and

✔️ have a minimum of two team members interested in participating.

The applicant must be authorised to submit the application on behalf of the startup team and must not won a SAIS 2-associated national pitch competition, participated in the BOOST UP Bootcamp 2019 or Slush Global Impact Accelerator 2018, or been sponsored by SAIS 2 to participate in Slush 2017.

While BOOST UP does not exclude anyone that meets these characteristics, women and young people aged 18 to 35 are especially encouraged to apply.

BOOST UP Stand Up Pitch Competition

The strongest participants during the Set Up stage will be invited to showcase their innovations and startups through a national pitch competition called Stand Up. The organisers in each country will test the startup’s application of the skills and knowledge they acquired both during Set Up and through their own research, and winners will be selected in each country to take part in Scale Up.


The national Stand Up winners will undergo further online training from September to November and a bootcamp that is planned to take place in Helsinki, Finland, in November 2020 (depending on whether travel and gatherings will be permitted). BOOST UP Bootcamp takes the form of intensive entrepreneurship and startup workshops with some of the best and brightest knowledge partners in Connected Hubs’s and SAIS 2’s international network. This event will wrap up with a pitch competition between all the national winners, and one startup will emerge as the winner of BOOST UP 2020.

This is an excellent opportunity for startups to grow, and all eligible startups are invited to apply. For more information, please visit the SAIS 2 website.