Cultural Entrepreneurship Hubs „It brings us closer together“

Nthato Malope
Nthato Malope | Goethe-Institut / Loredana La Rocca

The library of the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg houses a "Cultural Entrepreneurship Hub". Curator Nthato Malope speaks about the special place, the work he does with the different hubbers and his participation in the Munich Creative Business Week.

Mr. Malope, what is a „Creative Entrepreneurship Hub“ exactly?

A „creative hub“, or a „creative entrepreneurship hub“, is basically a safe space for entrepreneurs to come around and develop their own entrepreneurship abilities. A lot of creative individuals, whether they are architects, graphic designers, gamers, or people in the performing arts, they are creating their own businesses. Even though they don’t know the trade, they don’t know how develop their businesses, or they don’t know financial management yet. And so the creative hub that we’ve created is a place where artists in the creative sectors can come to us and learn how to take their businesses to the next level. Whatever that next level might be.

Nthato Malope Nthato Malope Librar | Goethe-Institut / Loredana La Rocca

A more sustainable way

And how does a „creative entrepreneurship hub“ look like?

We wanted to create a more sustainable way to support the creative people that the Goethe-Institut has already worked with in the past. So the decision was made to convert or repurpose the library that we have in the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. We created a sort-of upper-deck, where we have 10 hot desks and a co-working space. And we liked the idea that it‘s a library,  a place of learning.  We think that that’s  a very nice and innovative programme for our hubbers.

You maintain the creative hub at the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg. What are your tasks?

We have decided to work with eight hubbers. During the interview process, we have asked for very specific milestones they have in the next 6 months of their businesses. During these 6 months it’s my job to essentially keep them accountable to these milestones. So what we’ve done is, we‘ve designed a six-month framework for how the hub should work. And we‘ve extrapolated 6 key themes. It was very much a co-creative process with the hubbers. The first month was „understanding your problems“, the second month was „understanding your customer“, the third was „understanding your product“ and so on. Every month, it’s my duty to keep them accountable to very specific things around those key things. But also to be cognizant as to what stage the businesses are in.  

Nthato Malope Nthato Malope | Goethe-Institut / Loredana La Rocca

Teacher, Taskmaster, Friend

What are the biggest challenges?

Sometimes I feel like a teacher, or an annoying taskmaster, but then sometimes like a motivational friend, who is just really pushing them. A key thing we’ve learnt in our hub ist that you really need that second voice, to spring ideas off, and to have someone challenge you. We have something that we call Feedbcak Friday, and at times that can be very brutal. It’s very personal obviously. But that does two things: it brings us a lot closer together. And then every week you’re challenged to consider something different, something deeper about your idea. It leads to tremendous growth. It’s less about me being a taskmaster, but it’s more aboout us keeping each other accountable as a group.

The network meeting with entrepreneurs from the creative industries takes place at the Strasheg Centre for Entrepreneuship during the Munich creative Business Week. What is your wish for the meeting?

During the Munich Creative Business Week it’s very interesting for me as a hub creator to see how other cities engage with their creative communities and how they build these creative economies. I’m very fascinated by that. So my expectation is to participiate in as many programs as I can, to have many engaging conversations and also strategically network and build partnerships and alliances.