The Top Empowerment Awards, powered by TOPCO, recognises and honours businesses that are leading in transformation, whilst inspiring a new texture of conscious and socially charged way of business. The honour bestowed on ITHUBA was an affirmation of the National Lottery operator’s fine strides in not only demonstrating innovative leadership but also making significant impact in the communities they operate in, and society at large.

Accepting the award, Chief Executive Officer of ITHUBA, Charmaine Mabuza humbly thanked TOPCO for the nomination and acknowledgment whilst recognising the entire value chain of ITHUBA – from its employees to its stakeholders.

“It is such an honour to accept this accolade on behalf of ITHUBA, we did not expect it,” said Mabuza.

“ITHUBA believes that for big business to make a difference in the country and for the people who live in it, they must carry their moral obligation high on the shoulders of their organisation’s priorities, and put their best foot forward to quickly respond to the needs of the country,” added Mabuza, when she further reinforced ITHUBA’s key ethos.

Under her leadership, ITHUBA has transcended its role as a National Lottery operator by shifting the needle of many people’s lives through its jackpots, to being an ally to communities, the youth and entrepreneurs in desperate need of a leg up. This can be seen in its Corporate Social Investment commitments such as the ITHUBA Bursary Programme – a heart project founded by the CEO and her husband which funds students to pursue their academic dreams. The bursary programme targets young people from township-based or remote rural areas who have demonstrated academic excellence and are determined to continue with their studies at tertiary institutions. The purpose of this initiative is to provide a source of hope for the youth from these areas. The programme not only provide financial means to study, but ITHUBA goes the extra mile by offering mental health support to the students, through its partnership with ICAS, it also offers coaching and mentorship throughout the duration of their tertiary studies. The bursary specifically focuses on Marketing, financial studies, and Information Technology related study fields.

In addition to this, the Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme shines the spotlight on the grave funding and scaling needs of SMME’s. To that end, ITHUBA has funded many businesses owned by people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic where many businesses were confronted with cash flow and pay roll strain, this fund saw to the relief of many black and female owned enterprises in the main. As many of the recipients were unable to operate during lockdown, and couldn’t afford to pay their staff salaries, ITHUBA stepped in through the funding programme to assist some of its recipients to pay their staff salaries for six months.

The Top Empowerment: Socio-Economic Development Award comes off the back of a continual effort to straddle the balance between overnight wealth creation stories through lottery jackpot wins and the every-day life experiences of people in need of stepping stones to create new realities and a sustainable future for themselves, their families and communities at large.

It is against this backdrop that Charmaine Mabuza proudly states that such recognitions affirm and encourage the human-centric approach that the National Lottery operator has chosen to employ, – transcending business imperatives into sustainable and meaningful change at grass roots levels for marginalised groups.

“At ITHUBA, we insist on implementing women empowerment programmes that are impactful and measurable. If South Africa is to thrive economically then deliberate policies need to be put in place to support the economic participation of women,” adds Mabuza.

This is a philosophy ITHUBA embodies, boasting 60% female representation in its executive.

The Award is just but one signifier of the intentionality ITHUBA has operated from over the years, and presented an opportunity for deep reflection as the operator casts its eyes into the future. ITHUBA is emboldened and inspired by this honour and receives it as an encouragement to continue in its efforts to being a business that is people-centred, whilst committing itself to play its part in responding to the developmental challenges and opportunities South Africa presents to businesses to hold space for the disadvantaged and to cause dynamic change for lives and livelihoods.