Ithuba: Funding 82 black-owned businesses throughout the Covid-19 crisis

Written by Staff Writer


By Charndré Emma Kippie

“The various Supplier and Enterprise Development (SED) programmes that Ithuba has launched, reflect Ithuba’s passion to support and help develop black-owned business through skills, infrastructure, business opportunities and funding”

On Thursday, February 18th 2021, Ithuba Holdings (Pty) Ltd. held the Ithuba Supplier and Enterprise Development Funding Grant Awards virtual ceremony – celebrating 82 black-owned businesses across South Africa for their entrepreneurial achievements and positive contribution to the economy. R15 million in grants were divided between deserving beneficiaries of the Supplier and Enterprise Funding Programme, with each receiving amounts of up to R1.5m, depending on their financial situation and ability to scale.

Energetic host, Iman Rapetti – award-winning journalist, author and owner of strategic communications firm RappettiCom – started the celebratory event off with much excitement, inviting more than 200 virtual attendees to raise their glasses in honour of the ingenuity, tenacity and drive of the grant recipients. In congratulating all winners, Rapetti shared high hopes for their future success:

“It doesn’t matter what other people are saying; only you are the best advocate for your dreams.”

The virtual ceremony also included a surprising entertainment feature spot, taken up by accountant turned actor and comedian, Lihle Msimang, who brought attendees welcome levity with her clever humour on why “South Africans are so different”.

The 2-hour virtual ceremony paid tribute to multiple success stories of winners, both past and present, sharing their meaningful stories and acceptance speeches. Amongst the 82 grant recipients for 2021, were businesses such as solar power genius Puri Solutions, flower consultants Manolo Flowers, youth advocates XL Education, and public affairs specialists, Polarity Consulting – to name but only a few.

One key acknowledgement, this year, was the number of grants being awarded to women entrepreneurs across the nation. To date, Ithuba has invested in more than 100 women and their startups, serving as a ‘lifeline’ and accelerator for gender empowerment and economic diversification. Included in the list of honourable women grant recipients, were:

  • Judy Shabangu – At Jud’s Salon
  • Lee-Anne King – King Kulture
  • Marry Jane Ngwane – 8 Consulting
  • Palesa Napo – Sijingo Trading
  • Nomfundo Labase – Field Technician
  • Belmira Chirwa – Siphile Consulting Co.


Ithuba Group CEO, Charmaine Mabuza, gave an uplifting speech, commenting that it is often found that small businesses cannot afford the many costs involved with starting a business, yet they do possess so much value, and therefore she has much faith in their journey. She also added that Ithuba, along with its many sister companies, would be committing to the continued support of all beneficiaries, assisting them with future business opportunities, where their business models and capabilities would be best suited.

“Now, you will get to have your spot…We believe in you.”

As her speech continued, she paid special attention to acknowledging Ithuba’s significant and “deliberate” contributions to the development of South African communities. “The various Supplier and Enterprise Development (SED) programmes that Ithuba has launched, reflect Ithuba’s passion to support and help develop black-owned business through skills, infrastructure, business opportunities and funding,” she commented. “We believe that entrepreneurship is critical in driving innovation and economic growth. The grants will be instrumental in both the recovery and growth phases of the businesses we have contributed to. What’s more, when we empower our own, we remain connected to our footprints, and that is critical for us.”

Some of Ithuba’s additional SED programmes include the ‘Female Retailer Development Programme’, which is dedicated to assisting women in SA who sell National Lottery products, either from supermarkets or from their spaza shops. This programme is an attempt to aid these women in obtaining training and certifications from esteemed institutions. Then, there’s the Ithuba Youth Enterprise Development, geared towards helping to formalise black youth-owned businesses, and make them a ‘commercial reality’.

Also in attendance was special guest, Thabang Charlotte Mampane, CEO of the National Lotteries Board, who shed a spotlight on “values of upliftment”:

“97% of Ithuba’s procurement was spent on local goods and services”, she acknowledged. “This is a powerful symbol of hope… When we rise, we must send the lift down to assist others.”

Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina, of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), later praised Ithuba on their initiatives, emphasising the need for corporates in the private sector to lend a hand in developing black businesses.

“The empowerment of black people to run their own businesses is fundamental to the agenda of what established corporates must resort to. The condensation that is commonly made by racially conservative businesses or business leaders and some opposition political parties that B-BBEE is a stumbling block to the success of the economy, must be challenged.

“These nay-sayers always substitute racial regress with merit, as if the latter is not found in the former – in other words, ‘black by definition means incompetent’. We must hold hands and together fight this notion that must be debunked,” she said.

Concluding remarks were offered by the Chairman of Ithuba Holdings (Pty) Ltd., Molefe Seth Phalatse, who quoted previous U.S. President, Barack Obama:

“We did not come to fear the future, we came here to shape it.”

“Entrepreneurs are, indeed, the heart of the economy”, he commented. “We must keep this heart pumping…This economy is shaped by you [grant recipients]. And we are proud of you and believe in you”.


Missed out on the live event? You can watch the ceremony on demand here:



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