From crime-fighting cop to comedy star – Northern Cape entrepreneur tastes success
When the Covid-19 lockdowns had “everyone sitting at home on their phones”, former policeman Warren Louw saw the opportunity to provide entertainment, spinning his alter-ego character “Antie Katriena” into a successful business. Warren recently graduated as one of the top three students in the Small Business Academy (SBA) of Stellenbosch Business School.
A former SAPS detective constable stationed in Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape, Louw resigned after eight years in the service in 2019 and moved to Cape Town to further his dream of an acting career. Having secured an agent, he was attending castings and auditions until the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020 shut down the events and entertainment industry and sent him home to Namaqualand.
Stuck at home in Fonteintjie, outside Springbok, he realised that social media was his “golden ticket”, and he created the character “Antie Katriena”, posting videos on Facebook and TikTok of her straight-talking, humorous commentaries on life and the doings of her wayward son Waarhen.
He gained a 70 000-strong Facebook following during lockdown, which has since grown to over 80 000, and once gatherings were permitted again, the local municipality booked him to MC an event.
“It was my first paid job, and I realised I could make a living out of this,” he said.
More bookings swiftly followed and Antie Katriena has become Namaqualand’s favourite auntie, popping up at every festival in the region, doing MC duties at public events and private celebrations like weddings, delivering birthday wishes and congratulations on newborn babies in person, appearing on radio shows, and she even has her own merchandise range.
The stylish Antie Katriena is loved far and wide, has appeared on national television and recently performing in Keetmanshoop in Namibia, with her mix of comedy and life commentary, and leading the dancing and singing at events from weddings to church celebrations.
Business for his Warren’s Events & Entertainment has gotten so busy that Louw employs three part-time workers to assist and is meanwhile working on a proposal for Antie Katriena’s own TV show and his vision of establishing a drama school and theatre to get the youth of Namaqualand off the streets and developing a passion for the performing arts.
Louw has tapped into the power of global social media, so while he is on the ground with in-person appearances and live events, he has also managed to monetise his Facebook and TikTok followings and generates income from online appearances, marketing videos for businesses and personal video messages from Antie Katriena for clients locally and overseas, as well as online merchandise sales.
As a graduate of the SBA, an annual programme run by the business school for the past 10 years to developing small business owners in low-income communities in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape his business has sky rocketed.
He said the Small Business Academy had helped him to market his business better and set realistic rates to sustain the business, as well as putting policies in place, keeping proper records and setting up a clear business plan.
His advice to fellow would-be entrepreneurs? “If you’re struggling, remember your ‘why’. And don’t start your own business for money but for the love of your work.”
SBA Head Dr Armand Bam said: “The vision of the SBA is to make a difference in the lives of small business owners in low-income communities and build their capacity to ensure the sustainability of their businesses, with positive impact on their surrounding community.”
Dr Bam said that the majority of start-up small businesses in South Africa fail in their first 12 to 24 months mainly because the entrepreneurs, while having the technical skills in their sector, lack the knowledge of how to plan, run and sustain a business.
The nine-month SBA programme aims to fill that capacity gap through providing training in key business areas and ongoing mentoring by alumni of Stellenbosch Business School, equipping entrepreneurs with the business knowledge and practical skills to grow sustainable, job-creating businesses.
“Unlike many other SME support programmes, we don’t hand over a certificate and walk away – we continue the involvement through mentoring, workshops and masterclasses, and that is key to the programme’s success.
“Our impact research has shown that the majority of participants have remained in their business, have grown profitability and grown employment,” he said.
The SBA operates in partnership with corporate and public sector support, with the main sponsors being BankSeta in the Northern Cape, Distell (now Heineken) in the Western Cape and the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency in the Eastern Cape.
Follow Warren on Instagram here