The South African National Lottery Operator, ITHUBA Holdings, a subsidiary of black-owned investment group company, Zamani Holdings’ – runs the Lottery to raise maximum funds that are used towards the betterment of the socio-economic status of all South Africans. Since it was appointed as the Third National Lottery Operator in 2015, ITHUBA has been responsible for several record-breaking jackpots with the highest being R232 million, the highest jackpot in the history of Africa in 2019.

ITHUBA popularly known for its products that include LOTTO, LOTTO Plus 1, LOTTO Plus 2, Powerball, Powerball Plus, Sportstake13, EAZiWIN and Daily LOTTO is also involved in contributing positively towards developing South African communities through its business development programmes and offering of tertiary scholarships to previously disadvantaged learners across the country.

ITHUBA runs various Supplier and Enterprise Development (SED) programmes to support and help develop black-owned businesses through skills development, infrastructure, business opportunities and funding. As part of ITHUBA’s SED Funding Programme, ITHUBA funded 82 black-owned businesses early this year.

Other SED programmes include the Female Retailer Development Programme, a programme that helps women who sell National Lottery products from their supermarkets and spaza shops to acquire business training and qualifications from reputable institutions, as well as the ITHUBA Youth Enterprise Development Programme which assists the black youth to formalise their businesses.

ITHUBA’s investment in women

The ITHUBA Supplier Development Programme

Mummy Seopa

When a 20-year-old electrical engineering student fell pregnant midcourse at Central Johannesburg College, she was forced to drop-out and fend for her baby. The future started to look very bleak for Mummy Seopa who now had to join thousands of unemployed youth in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg. Today, Alexandra has an estimated 60% of unemployed residents, and nearly 500 000 people who live in the 100 000 formal and informal housing community.

“Once you fall pregnant, your parents tell you that you are now a grown up, you are on your own,” says Seopa, the only girl child in a family of four boys. Seopa, now 38, could no longer return to complete the course she started, so she sold kota meals and fried potato chips in the streets of Alexandra, an ad hoc informal business she initiated with a child support grant of R280. But that was not a sustainable business as there were many other people in the same business. As a result, Seopa went through many menial positions in restaurants, as a packer and cashier at supermarkets and other retailers. At some point, she worked with her mother in her food caravan business until she decided that she should be self-employed and empower other women who had faced similar challenges as hers.

Seopa, popularly known by her friends and family as Pandora, progressed from selling food in her mother’s caravan to running a canteen in the premises of ITHUBA’s headquarters in Sandton. This opportunity came after she was recommended by her mother who was unable to fulfil the opportunity herself when ITHUBA approached her for the new business prospect. Seopa decided to formalise the business and registered it. Her company also provides cleaning services.

Seopa has been both an ITHUBA supplier and a Youth Enterprise Development Programme (YEDP) beneficiary – a scheme designed by Raizcorp for aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 35 years old. As an SMME owner under ITHUBA’s Supplier Enterprise Development Programme, Seopa has gone through business training with Raizcorp, and when COVID-19 interrupted her business, she received relief funds from ITHUBA to continue paying salaries for her staff. “The training we received from ITHUBA changed so many people’s lives. With the funds I received from ITHUBA, I was able to buy more equipment to do my work. As a company we are doing a lot of things; catering for corporates and funerals, deep cleaning of carpets and fogging services for COVID-19,” says Seopa.

Born in Mokopane in Limpopo but raised in Alexandra, Seopa says her catering business currently employs five people, but under normal business conditions, she has 10 people in her employ. WOP, which stands for Women of Progress, is a 100% black, female-owned SMME, with Seopa being the sole director.

Seopa, who progressed from being a YEDP beneficiary to being a supplier to ITHUBA, says she learnt to open her heart and give back to her community. “The same seed ITHUBA has planted into my business I will definitely plant into other people’s businesses, individuals and orphanage homes,” she says.

ITHUBA’s Female Retailer Enterprise Development Programme

Caroline Tshawe

Caroline Tshawe, who runs a branding company, Tarospace, decided to abandon her career in Cost Management Accounting, to pursue her curiosity and passion for branding. Her company brands various items including, company and school uniforms, T-shirts, jackets, mugs, stationery and corporate gifts.

She recalls starting the company nine years ago while studying cost management accounting at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), after attending a business exhibition that had companies showcasing printing and branding machines. Tshawe bought her first branding machine and started running her business part-time while studying.

“I applied for the ITHUBA training programme because I wanted to learn how to run my business professionally and profitably. The process was painful and very challenging, but it was worth it because after the programme you are a whole different person, in terms of your personality and character. It gives you confidence to speak boldly and proudly about your own business,” says the 37-year-old entrepreneur.

Born and bred in Thembisa and the second born of three children, Tshawe heard about the ITHUBA’s Enterprise Development Programme on social media and took a chance. “I have benefited a lot, because of the training I have on my own machines, machines which I don't think I would have if it wasn't for the help I got from ITHUBA. My family is very proud of the businesswoman I have become, and they believe in what I am doing. My impression regarding the programme is that it's a great initiative, it just requires a person to be 110% dedicated so that you can reap the rewards of running a successful business,” says Tshawe.

Tshawe did not only acquire business skills from the programme, she was also introduced to the philanthropic ITHUBA CEO, Charmaine Mabuza whom she takes as her role model in business. Her wish is to emulate her business acumen. “My wish is to introduce young women into this type of business I am doing because I believe people just need to be exposed to different things to be able to learn and then decide what they want to do with their lives.”

Tshawe, who employs three people, is currently branding her products in-house and in June 2021, she extended her business profile by introducing a sewing department where she manufactures t-shirts, jackets and tracksuits. Under the tutelage of ITHUBA, Tshawe started as a recipient of the Youth Enterprise Development Programme and has now become a supplier to ITHUBA.

“My ultimate goal is to brand 100% in-house – meaning I must not outsource anything, and for me to do that I need to invest in more machinery,” she says.

Mathabo Ndlovu

Mathabo Ndlovu, a beneficiary of the lottery operator’s Female Retailer Programme runs a family Chemist shop in Emdeni, Soweto. After attending the University of Johannesburg’s Women Empowerment Programme, Ndlovu says this training helped her understand business compliance issues in order to run her business more effectively. This included registering a business, tax compliance, and how to manage finances.

The 42-year-old mother of two also sells National Lottery products from their shop to reinforce her revenue. “Selling National Lottery tickets has really done that for us. It makes me proud to see the National Lottery branding at our shop. I used to think the National Lottery was far from us. But through dealing with ITHUBA, I got to learn that it was an initiative that benefits all of us.”

Ndlovu says she heard about the programme from an ITHUBA sales representative. “I applied for the training to enhance my entrepreneurial skills, and I definitely gained insight on how to run my own business. The programme was tailored for me because it was aimed for the empowerment of women from disadvantaged backgrounds” says Ndlovu who matriculated from MH Joosub High in Lenasia, in 1995.

Ndlovu has gained so much confidence since she was awarded a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Advanced Innovation, a course designed and tailor-made for ITHUBA and accredited by the University of Johannesburg. “The course required dedication and a lot of work, but I was prepared to grab this opportunity, “says Ndlovu.

“My vision is to open a butchery in the same location. I am using the knowledge I acquired from the ITHUBA sponsored course to explore business opportunities that will benefit me and the community I live in,” says Ndlovu.

The ITHUBA bursary in conjunction with the Eric and Charmaine Mabuza Foundation Scholarship Programme

Sabelo Hlatshwayo

Zamani Holdings, the majority shareholder of the National Lottery Operator, founded a scholarship fund that has benefitted more than 300 doctors, chartered accountants, quantity surveyors, ICT specialists and many more professionals. The Mabuza family’s goal has always been to be part of the solution in alleviating some of the country’s social challenges.

Sabelo Hlatshwayo is one of those who recently qualified for the prestigious scholarship programme. The 29-year-old from Orlando East matriculated from Bhukulani Senior Secondary, in 2010. He says that after he had been looking for funding for a prolonged time as he could not afford to pay for tertiary education, he saw an advert in a newspaper.

“I decided to apply since I had already concluded that I needed to go back to school in order to obtain my tertiary qualification. The interview process for the ITHUBA funding was quite rigorous and intense since they probably wanted to make sure that the right candidates were chosen for the funding,” he says.

Hlatshwayo is full of praises for the scholarship. He says, “ITHUBA really cares about our mental, financial and academic well-being as students. The admin team is always available to assist us, provide us with guidance and someone to speak to if we need encouragement. It does not matter what time of the day we call on them, they are ready to help,” says the BSc in Computer Sciences student at the University of Johannesburg.

Hlatshwayo says he wants to become one of the greatest software engineers in South Africa, so that he can fulfil his dream of starting a black-owned software development firm.

Nombini Mpambani

Mpambani who comes from a family of unemployed parents achieved four distinctions in her matric examination at Phumlani Secondary School in Katlehong township, east of Johannesburg. Now studying at the University of Johannesburg, she qualified for the bursary programme award.

“I applied for ITHUBA funding because I was desperate for funding, and it has always been my dream to further my studies and ultimately have a secure future,” says Mpambani.

Like Hlatshwayo, Mpambani says the funding has immensely changed her life and she goes about her studies without worrying about tuition fees and accommodation expenses as the grant covers for all her student needs. “My biggest impression of the funding is that it promotes ubuntu – ‘I am because you are. That it alleviates poverty by granting the poor a chance to advance themselves academically, so they can, in turn, help others in the future,” says the Bachelor of Accounting Science student.

Mpambani, who was provided with a laptop by ITHUBA to adapt to her online studies, says she has nothing to worry about as the foundation calls her regularly to check if she is doing fine. “I have nothing to worry about as everything is taken care of by the efficient team and all I have to do is to focus, work hard and achieve the academic requirements,” she says.

The philanthropic gesture of the Eric and Charmaine Mabuza Foundation has inspired Mpambani to be a role model in her community.