There is a lack of companies offering the needed sustainable sanitation, water and waste management services and products in Southern Africa. Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME), who want to fill this gap, often lack the capacities and resources to enter such new markets. In such endeavours, SMEs also need support in developing business models, plans and cooperation structures. To overcome these challenges, we mobilised several local and international partners to improve the capacities for local water SMEs in Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. The result is a set of innovative business development and matchmaking approaches such as Business Model Ateliers (two-day design thinking courses to develop and refine business ideas), longer Start-Up programmes that combine training, coaching and business matchmaking services. These events offer exciting and novel opportunities in connecting businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs in the sanitation, water and resource management sector across borders. The Innovative Business Partnerships for Africa project is carried out in the context of a development partnership as part of the develoPPP.de programme that is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and our sister organisation seecon.