As the operator of the South African National Lottery, ITHUBA has launched numerous programmes to enhance the lives of South Africans

Since ITHUBA took over the operation of the South African National Lottery, it has always upheld its promise to not only reinvigorate the National Lottery brand, but to better the lives of South Africans through equal opportunities.

An increased retailer footprint; SME development and support; addressing youth unemployment through internship programmes and youth enterprise development; and the ongoing contribution towards socio-economic development… These are all initiatives that are centred on addressing the needs of the SA people. ITHUBA has proven to be a responsible corporate citizen who has assumed its mandate as the operator of the National Lottery with a sense of urgency.

In the four years that ITHUBA has operated the South African National Lottery, it has created jobs, transferred skills, strengthened the local infrastructure and helped with the sustainable development of small enterprises.

Former street-food vendor Pandora Seopa, a beneficiary of the ITHUBA Enterprise Development Programme, now runs ITHUBA’s canteen in Sandton

The global youth unemployment crisis is one of the great challenges of our time. Youth unemployment in SA currently accounts for 63.4% of the total number of unemployed persons. This is an alarming figure that needs the urgent attention and collaboration of both the government and corporate SA.

Youth entrepreneurship has been one of the tools that the country has implemented to combat the scourge of unemployment. While SA is considered an entrepreneurial leader in sub-Saharan Africa, its weakest link in terms of its entrepreneurial ecosystem is the lack of start-up skills.

ITHUBA understands its role as a catalyst for change and that addressing unemployment among the youth will require business to support young entrepreneurs with much-needed opportunities to advance themselves and their businesses. This prompted ITHUBA to launch its Youth Enterprise Development Programme, which is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs, between 18 and 35 years old, who have a business idea or registered a small business, and need to take it to the next level of commercialisation (pre-start-up).

This formal programme is aimed at providing essential start-up skills and developmental support for the entrepreneurs, targeting five critical areas, namely business guidance focusing on strategy, finance, marketing, sales and personal development; access to infrastructure and back office support to help ease the financial burden of growing a new business; entrepreneurial learning; access to specialists; and access to finance.

On completing the programme, the entrepreneurs will have a more stable state of trade; a business model that attracts investors and a product/service that is appealing to customers. ITHUBA intends to integrate the entrepreneurs into its procurement ecosystem.

ITHUBA tackles the challenges facing SMEs on a much broader scale. The ITHUBA Female Retailer Development programme has seen more than 100 female retailers develop, train and upskill themselves to improve their business skills and acumen. These are the women who sell National Lottery products from their informal retail stores such as spaza shops and supermarkets.

The programme curriculum comprises enrolling them in formal institutions, including Regenesys and the University of Johannesburg business schools. ‘I started selling lottery products before ITHUBA became the operator of the National Lottery,’ according to Dorcas Mokale of Mokale Supermarket. ‘No operator has given informal businesses attention like ITHUBA has. They did not come into our businesses and use us as an extension of increasing their sales. ‘ITHUBA took the time to understand our needs, and empowered us with business skills that continue to help us manage our businesses successfully.’

ITHUBA corporate relations executive Khensani Mabuza

Since 2015, ITHUBA has signed up more retail partners than any other South African National Lottery operator. With 9 000 retailer terminals and 170 000 hand-held devices installed nationally, ITHUBA has certainly delivered on its promise to increase the National Lottery footprint. This has provided SMEs that have partnered with ITHUBA with an opportunity to increase their turnover and expand their businesses.

More than R1.2 billion worth of commission has been paid to National Lottery retail partners in the past four years. This is a significant contribution towards the growth of their businesses.

ITHUBA is committed to supporting local businesses, developing communities and uplifting South Africans through socio-economic initiatives. For this reason, 90% of its suppliers are locally based. In addition, ITHUBA, through transparent, one-on-one consultations with entrepreneurs, has assisted a large number of businesses on its supplier database with upskilling their capabilities so that they are a better fit for the company’s procurement needs.

One of the top highlights for ITHUBA is the story of the canteen owner who is based at the company’s headquarters in Sandton. From being a street-food vendor down the road to being a canteen owner at ITHUBA’s head office in Johannesburg, Pandora Seopa’s rise in the business world is a classic story of never giving up on your dream; of being determined and passionate about what you do and what you believe in; and one that makes us proud to be a part of her journey.  

When the business identified a need for a staff canteen, naturally she was the first choice to be the preferred service provider, because ITHUBA’s employees, and other businesses in the area swore by the authenticity of her dishes. She attended an all-expenses-paid business-development programme where she acquired essential business skills and acumen. Since taking over the ITHUBA canteen in 2016, her business has grown to employ full-time staff members, catering for high-profile and private events and various corporates in Johannesburg and Nelspruit.  ITHUBA has spent more than R1 million ensuring that Seopa’s business is developed and integrated into its supply chain, and that it grows to become a sustainable entity that creates jobs.

‘In the beginning, I never used to keep a record of my sales. With the help of ITHUBA, I now keep a consistent balance sheet and this has given me a realistic view of my businesses,’ says Seopa. ‘I really am grateful for the opportunity that ITHUBA has given me. It has changed my life.’

ITHUBA vows to always go beyond the call of duty as a responsible citizen that puts the needs of the people of SA first. 

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