Slush, the world’s leading start-up event returns to Helsinki this December 1-2 and a number of South African tech entities will be on stage battling for the “Best Start-up” honors.
The start-ups headed for Helsinki are:
South Africa’s expanded youth unemployment rate has breached 70% which is a grave indicator of the grim prospects for young South Africans. This phenomenon is not exclusive to South Africa but is a recurrent theme across the continent and beyond.
The pandemic decimated many businesses, wiping out many sources of income and this has put further pressure on African countries to find innovative solutions to the problems.
In the information age, digital entrepreneurship offers the lowest barrier to entry thus it is a no-brainer that governments, the private sector and donors have to work together to provide the necessary infrastructure for young Africans to meaningfully participate in the new normal. How growth entrepreneurs have been proven to be the biggest contributors to job-creation.
Despite the pandemic, the Finnish government has been resolute in its quest to empower upcoming entrepreneurs in Southern Africa thus they forged ahead with their regional SAIS 2 Connected Hubs programme which is sponsoring these budding entrepreneurs.
SAIS 2 is a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses through strengthening innovation ecosystems and promotion of cross-border collaboration between innovation role-players in Southern Africa. The Programme focuses on strengthening early-stage enterprises and young entrepreneurs, connecting innovation ecosystems, and promoting innovations serving socially or economically disadvantaged populations.
The overall objective of SAIS 2 is “enhanced regional innovation cooperation and national innovation systems contributing to inclusive business and development”. SAIS 2 has been running since 2017 and will end this year, 2021. The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and mLab are responsible for running the South African leg of the programme.
The programme activities are managed by a Programme Management Office (SAIS 2 PMO) located in Windhoek, Namibia and hosted by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology. The SAIS 2 PMO is supported by national Focal Points which are the national organizations mandated to promote and coordinate Science Technology and Innovation (STI) in the five SAIS 2 partner countries. The partner countries are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania.
The program dubbed “BOOST UP” is a three-part series aiming to provide start-ups with knowledge and training to scale up. The Connected Hubs looked for outstanding start-ups that use technology to solve a societal challenge. These start-ups were put through training during Set Up, and the best start-ups from this stage were selected to participate in the Stand Up Pitch Competition for a chance to represent their countries during the BOOST UP Bootcamp in Helsinki, Finland.
This is a great opportunity for the selected start-ups to learn important skills, especially how to pitch their business, to network and meet new people who might be able to help them on their start-up journey.
The ultimate test will be at where these start-ups will compete against companies from all over the world. Slush 2021 will take place physically and safely in Helsinki, Messukeskus, on December 2021. The event organizers have designed for 8,000 individuals to attend.