Willem Gous, mentor to creative and cultural industry entrepreneurs is up for a major continental award

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

He is a mentor to entrepreneurs selected for the arts and culture business development programme Thuthukisani Programme of Arts and Culture Trust (ACT). And those creatives he mentors were recently in the spotlight as they were recently paraded as potential future business leaders in the creative and cultural sector at this year’s award ceremony.

In a fair twist of fate and fortune however, it is now the turn of small business mentor and micro business expert Willem Gous to enjoy the spotlight. The business leader is up for a prestigious continental award for start-ups, Act announced yesterday in a media release.

The Arts & Culture Trust Thuthukisani Programme mentor has been nominated for Africa Startup Ecosystem Builders (ASEB) Awards Startup Mentor of the Year.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) Thuthukisani Programme is a business development programme to empower a selected group of artists and creative entrepreneurs to implement and execute their chosen projects in a strategic and sustainable way. 

Gous and his business, The Human Entrepreneur are nominated in the Africa Startup Ecosystem Builders Summit & Awards in the category of Startup Mentor of the Year and Startup Incubator of the Year. 

“The Trust would like to congratulate Willem Gous on his recent well deserved nomination and we wish him well at the Awards Ceremony on 8 December. We are particularly proud that the excellent work done by Mr Gous with the ACT Thuthukisani Programme artists and arts business owners is being recognised,” says Jessica Denyschen, Interim CEO, Arts & Culture Trust who adds; “Under the mentorship of Mr Gous, ACT Thuthukisani Programme participants are pushed to propel their business development into sustainable income generatig activities with a long term focus.”   

In the meantime arts business owners and registered independent artists based in Gauteng, the Free State and Western Cape are reminded that the Cycle 3 open call dates have been announced, with applications closing on 17 January 2023. Online applications are accessed at www.act.org.za/thuthukisani, and outcomes are expected to be announced in February 2023. Only projects with merit that can generate income will be eligible for potential investment.

  Gous says: “Being a finalist in the Africa Startup Ecosystem Builders Awards is an honour to be part of and a recognition of my 22 years of entrepreneurial experience across manufacturing, media, online and education. I can see how this experience plays out in the work with the Arts and Culture Trust and helping artists think, act and execute like entrepreneurs and execute successfully on creative projects. Thank you to the ASBEA as well as ACT for supporting me in helping Africa uncover tomorrow’s entrepreneurial talent in the creative industries.”

Training is provisionally scheduled to start at the end of February 2023. The three-month mentorship under Gous takes place in a weekly, two-hour online group session with bi-weekly one-on-one sessions available.

“It is also important for applicants to know that their proposed project plans and ideas will need to be further developed during the training sessions, and will need to be executed and generate income within 90 days if selected for investment. As a business development course, this programme requires a significant commitment in terms of time and effort. Selected applicants will need discipline and excellent communication skills, and will be required to work with mentor, Willem Gous to develop their project plan. Acceptance into the programme does not guarantee monetary investment. Participants must strictly comply with and attend all training and mentorship sessions,” said ACT in a statement yesterday.

Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank, says: ‘Willem is the secret weapon in our ACT Thuthukisani Programme. People in the arts in every part of South Africa have to learn to run a business efficiently and make money in order to be sustainable and grow. Essential to this is Willem’s training sessions with the mentees in business entrepreneurialism and arts administration. These are not just the theory, he expects business results.’

 To keep in touch with the ACT, please visit their website, follow them on Twitter or like their Facebook page.

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