The Business Woman of the Year award category recognised a female business leader who displays elements of original entrepreneurship and leadership evident by diversification and innovation. Furthermore, finalists needed to demonstrate involvement in socio-economic development initiatives. These qualities resonate very much with Mabuza, based on her accolades over the years.

Charmaine Mabuza

Alluding to the BBQ awards, ITHUBA recognizes Charmaine Mabuza, as a formidable black female leader making a difference in South Africa. As the first black female CEO to be awarded the license to operate the National Lottery in South Africa in June 2015, Mabuza has been leading ITHUBA, shaping new realities and futures through an innovative and highly responsive business that mirrors the aspirations of society. Mabuza's humble origins, entrepreneurial roots, and passion for helping South Africans are the driving force behind ITHUBA’s culture and purpose.

Mabuza co-founded Zamani Holdings, which includes subsidiaries such as ITHUBA, each with independent management teams. ITHUBA is South Africa's National Lottery operator since being awarded the license in June 2015, with the mandate to operate the National Lottery and drive sales to create revenue on behalf of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). The National Lotteries Commission manages the distribution and allocation of funds towards good causes. As the licensed operator of the National Lottery, Mabuza's drive and leadership has helped change countless lives as players of the National Lottery games win cash prizes, and many became multimillionaires overnight.

ITHUBA has successfully transformed a traditional retailer-dominated business model with fixed terminals in-store into a digitally-driven organisation by implementing an integrated solution across multiple platforms. First National Bank was one of the only banks selling National Lottery tickets back in 2015; during the last several years of ITHUBA's tenure, it has expanded its digital playing platforms to include several banking partners with the addition of ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank, FNB, Capitec, TymeBank, and more recently, African Bank. ITHUBA is also the first operator to introduce a National Lottery Mobile App offering players a seamless playing solution across the website, USSD, and Mobile App.

Charmaine Mabuza has over the years, also received numerous prestigious awards, including the Vision 2030 Top Woman in Education Award, Forbes Africa Social Impact Award (2020), CEO of the Year, Outstanding Women Leadership Award at the Africa Leadership Awards 2021, and was selected as one of the Top 10 Influential Women in the global iGaming Business (IGB) list. Her story highlights the power of opportunity, support, hard work, resilience, creativity, and feminine energy.

Her passion lies in the gaming sector and spills over to areas such as socio-economic development. As a philanthropist, she has independently set up a series of social corporate responsibility projects. ITHUBA's socio-economic development initiatives reflect Mabuza's deep appreciation for shared values, linking business sustainable growth to community investment that transcends profit and creates educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for others. Some of these include two housing projects where she built houses in a village in Mpumalanga for staff members back in 2018, and more recently, she built another 15 houses in KwaZulu-Natal, the North West, and Gauteng for families that were affected by the KZN floods last year and other natural disasters.

She also initiated food parcel distribution drives nationwide, including Limpopo, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal. To date, thousands of communities have received food parcels from ITHUBA. Another passion project she has is the ITHUBA Bursary which caters to students from underprivileged backgrounds that want to study in the fields of Marketing, Information Technology, and Commerce. The Bursary's main objective is to bridge the social and economic divides in the education sector.

"I believe that education is a critical contributing factor to economic growth; therefore, bursary programmes play a crucial role in increasing opportunities for those unable to afford tertiary education," says Mabuza.

Other programmes she established at ITHUBA included the Supplier Enterprise Development programme (SED), a funding programme that was designed to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on SMEs. As well as the Female Retailer Development programmes is also one of the initiatives designed to empower women in business.

As Mabuza’s success is evident from hard work, determination, and boldness to break the ceiling, Mabuza concludes by saying that her journey will not stop here; the Group CEO of ITHUBA, she plans to grow as an entrepreneur and an internationally recognised businesswoman.


ITHUBA Holdings Proprietary “(RF), is the official operator of the National Lottery in South Africa. Since taking over the operation of the national lottery in 2015, ITHUBA has been living up to its objective to reinvigorate the National Lottery through optimizing the consumer experience, restoring faith and trust in the National Lottery; and showcasing its positive social contribution to society. ITHUBA, proudly rooted in South Africa, is intent on contributing positively and actively to socio-economic development by producing as many millionaires as possible, as well as uplifting communities through various initiatives.

ITHUBA is determined to uphold the ethical and efficient operation of the National Lottery, setting the benchmark for Lottery operations in South Africa and beyond.