Artists join SME cluster

SMEs Compete is a firm that supports growth and employment creation in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector.

It conducts industry-specific activities to extend and deepen SMEs’ skills; to create cohesive sector specific groups for communication, subcontracting and exchange of tools and equipment; to introduce SMEs to larger companies; and to promote trade.

However, SMEs Compete does not limit its support provision.

Group activities, as well as individualised support for entrepreneurs and to businesses operating outside the focus industries clusters, are provided too.

Small firms constitute the backbone of an economy. Not only do they provide employment and therefore income opportunities to a large number of people but they are also at the forefront of technological innovation and export diversification.

Although accurate statistics are not readily available it is believed that works of art bought by foreign visitors to Namibia contribute millions of dollars to the country’s export earnings.

In pursuance of its cluster strategy, SMEs Compete will be arranging an exhibition for Namibian artists.

Dubbed ‘Art 4 U’ the event is scheduled to take place from 21 to 23 September. Navin Morar and Alex Zacharia, owners of Taal restaurant a popular eatery in the capital city that serves Indian cuisine have made available their conference facility.

One of the artists who will be participating, Werner Mouton couldn’t hide his excitement at having another opportunity to promote his work at SMEs Compete’s ‘Art 4 U’ exhibition.

He recently exhibited at the FNCC and his work is currently on display at Europe House too.

Mouton is poised to make a major impact on Namibia’s art landscape over the coming years. The man is determined to succeed and in the process to help other budding artists realise their dreams and aspirations.

His focus is to guide, support and thereby to give them an opportunity denied to other artists.

Mouton’s interest in art was sparked at a young age where on a visit to a farm he met Walter Brockerhoff, a cousin of his mother. Despite the lack of formal education Brockerhoff was a talented artist specialising in landscapes.

The young Werner was immediately captivated and decided that his future lies in art.

At school Mouton’s talent was soon discovered by the teachers who routinely ‘commissioned’ him to design and make classroom posters and teaching aids.

He also discovered the commercial value of his talent and a hobby was soon turned into a home enterprise when he would regularly be engaged to do sign writing for local entrepreneurs.

Mouton’s dream to study either architecture or drafting could not be realised.

As was ‘normal’ at the time, he was compelled to become a blue collar worker, do a trade and seek ‘gainful’ employment.

Of the trade options on offer Mouton selected to be trained as an electrician and he was part of the pioneering or first group to attend R’ssing mine’s institution located in Arandis, a vocational training centre today known as NIMT.

Five years ago Werner Mouton, popularly known by his nickname ‘Sampie’, joined his wife Claudine in Windhoek, where he is now employed by the municipality’s electrical department.

The couple has two daughters, eight-year old Candice, who seemingly has inherited her father’s artistic talent, and the baby of the family, Amber aged two.

After lying latent for several years, Mouton’s passion for painting was rekindled two years ago. With his wife’s encouragement and the support of family and friends he hasn’t looked back since then.

Although he never benefited from formal art training Mouton’s enquiring mind has helped him develop techniques and skills that he now shares with other budding artists.

He is fast becoming one of Namibia’s most talented artists.

Asked about the future, Mouton says, “This time nothing will stand between me and my passion to paint”. With SMEs Compete’s support his dream may well be realised sooner than he expects.

August 2006
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