Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) start-ups were amongst other innovators from the region who participated in the BOOST-UP final pitch competition which was held simultaneously in all five countries and broadcast online recently.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC)countries are Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.
The competition was hosted by Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses by strengthening innovation ecosystems and promoting cross-border collaboration between innovation role players in Southern Africa.
BIH’s Brand and Communications Manager, Kemiso Ben explained BOOST-UP is a programme aimed at supporting early stage start-ups that use technology to solve societal challenges in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. In Botswana, the BOOST-UP start-up programme is administered by BIH.
“This programme is an opportunity for start-ups to learn important skills especially how to pitch their businesses and to network and meet new people who might be able to help them on their start-up journey,” she said. Doctors E-Consult, represented by Loatile Nkala, was the top start-up in Botswana, and won access to Node by SLUSH, an international investment matchmaking platform. This prize offers access to a curated community that connects start-ups with investors, partners, and mentors until the end of 2020.
Doctors E-Consult is a mobile application that serves as a doctor–patient consulting room on a phone or device. The application houses doctors from around the country and patients can book virtual appointments with their preferred doctor.
Consultations are done by way of text or video calls through the application. Online doctor’s consultations will reduce congestion in medical facilities and allow for effective social distancing during the era of COVID-19. BOOST UP is broken into three stages. During the Set Up training, start-ups received training in pitching and good business practices. The best of the start-ups participating in this stage were invited to take part in the Stand Up National Pitch Competitions. The winners of these competitions went on to participated in Scale Up, an online incubator and bootcamp that culminated in the final pitch event.
Dawa Health, represented by Tafadwa Munzwa from Zambia, was the winner of BOOST UP 2020. Dawa Health is a weekly advisory application for expecting mothers accessible via mobile phones.
The winner receives a one-week trip to Finland in 2021 and will be introduced to the Finnish ecosystem for endless possibilities of partnerships, mentoring, funding, and many other opportunities.
In addition to the main prize, BOOST UP competition offered US$5,000 in AWS credits sponsored by AWS Activate for the top three start-ups overall, a prize for the top start-up from each country sponsored by SLUSH, and a package sponsored by Think Africa for the start-up that most represents the organisation’s values.
Other participants from Botswana included First-Aid Counselling, represented by Kesego Mosime, LeveragePoint represented by Kenneth Setimela, and Scoot Logistics represented by Sam Sono. First-Aid Counselling is an app that allows users to get professional mental health help within minutes.
LeveragePoint offers BusinessPoint, a comprehensive system geared towards SMMEs that allows for full automation of business processes, enabling easy monitoring, reporting, and compliance to the statutory reporting requirements and taxation. Scoot Logistics utilises an online delivery services platform for all parcel delivery needs around Gaborone.
“The coaching that the innovators receive on their journey to BOOST UP’s international final pitch competition stage helps them gain practical tools to develop a pitch that is attractive to investors. BIH continues to deliver on one of its functions of creating opportunities for start-ups to present their innovative solutions to potential investors,” Ben said.
“Today, the BOOST UP 2019 competition winners’ growth and ability to penetrate the market are attributable to the exposure they received through the BOOST UP programme, and we foresee the 2020 winners and participants reaping similar benefits.”
SAIS 2 is a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses by strengthening innovation ecosystems and promoting cross-border collaboration between innovation role players in Southern Africa.
SAIS 2 is supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland, in partnership with the ministries responsible for Science, Technology, and Innovation of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia as well as the SADC Secretariat. In Botswana, the SAIS 2 programme is administered by BIH.