Mrs Charmaine Mabuza – ITHUBA Holdings CEO and Group CEO Zamani Holdings.

Mr Molefe Seth Phalatse – Chairman – ITHUBA Holdings.

Mrs Thabang Charlotte Mampane – NLC Commissioner.

The beneficiaries of Ithuba Supplier and Enterprise Development Funding Awards.

Distinguished guests.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with great honour that Ithuba Holdings, one of the known brands in South Africa, in its own wisdom saw it fit to extend an invitation to the dtic Ministry, and more specifically to me. I say Ithuba is a known brand in the country because of the obvious reasons, as our National Lottery Operator, you can tell me as to how many South Africans who are not playing Lotto, trying their luck, every week. Majority of South Africans across racial and social divide find time to “Phanda, Phusha and Play

As the Deputy Minister of the Department that is responsible for the National Lottery Commission, to which your lottery business is awarded and overseen, I want to express my appreciation for your excellent service in the running of the National Lottery. I want to express my excitement that Ithuba Holding is founded, dominated and ran by women. The excellency of the Chief Executive, Ms. Charmaine Mabuza in the business, including all the sister and subsidiary companies under Ithuba Holdings, inspire confidence that women are as capable and best in the business and of running the economy as men. In different sectors, all what women need, is to be given the opportunity to assume responsibilities and definitely they will perform.

I am in complete jubilation that as a black led company you took a decision to be deliberate about making a meaningful contribution towards changing lives of those who are underprivileged. Within that context, you have decided to develop a funding programme designed at support the emerging entrepreneurs, upskilling of the black owned businesses, assisting these small players in the infrastructure acquisitions and helping them to navigate the difficult minefield of business opportunities.

As government, we continue to emphasize that building of SMMEs in this country as one instrument in our toolbox for the economy, is critical if we are to succeed in reversing the high levels of unemployment in this country. All the successful economies, especially the recently industrialized economies such as the Pacific Rim countries, better known as known as the Asian Tigers (South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan), have succeeded in building their economies by focusing mainly on building SMMEs in all sectors whilst emphasizing localization and regional sourcing of raw material. This approach has created extensive backward and forward market linkages from Smaller and medium enterprises whilst at the same time creating the necessary multiplier effects on jobs creation, through growth of the small and medium enterprises.

The economic redress and justice will only come about when the private sector in general and big corporates, in particular, accepts and appreciates the reality that the stability of the economic environment of this country is intertwined with facilitating more economic participation by way of hand-holding of smaller enterprise players, to grow. And for them to grow means giving them opportunities through supply chains from their different value-chains.

Big corporate must accept that until such time the economic opportunities are deracialised, with black Africans being ushered in as players in the game field, we will not find stability in this country. Such a socio-economic instability will also pose a threat to the very business ecosystem. And so, the ostrich approach by big corporates to the lending of a helping hand, availing of resources for black-owned emerging businesses will be a surest way of future inhibitions, that can be prevented today.

The question of building black business, I mean, the empowerment of African blacks to run their own businesses is fundamental to the agenda of what the established big SA Corporates must resolved to attend. The condescension that is commonly made too loud by racially conservative business leaders and some opposition political parties, that B-BBEE is a stumbling block to the economy, must be challenged and be debunked. These naysayers always substitute economic racial redress with merits, as if the latter is not found in the former. In other words, blacks by definition means incompetence.

In this regard, companies like Ithuba Holdings which are amongst the pathfinders in the mission of building black emerging businesses, must join us in throwing down the gauntlet towards big monopolies in setting aside a deliberate incubation programmes and funding mechanism. There is a need from big business to create a system of protected business opportunities for African black emerging entrepreneurs who are not a front for white companies, in order to broaden multiracial profile of our economy. Time for timidity when it comes to these matters and a sense of feeling sorry for ourselves, as if we have no collective power, is no more. We must continue to engage with big business on these matters, not from a generosity point of view, but from the perspective of the goodness of this economy, prosperity of this country in terms of economic growth and social stability as jobs would be created, through leaps and bounds.

Today is a special day and the one to be proud of as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Competition. We have assembled in order to witness, as Ithuba, your act of patriotism. By this initiative, Ithuba Supplier and Enterprise Development funding Awards, which is targeting 82 Start-Ups businesses which are 100% black-owned at the very lowest levels of the rung, you are planting a seed in a fertile soil that will germinate for the future of this economy. These Start-Ups are often shunned by banks for funding yet they have solid business plans, they know what they are doing and mostly are led by very driven people, passionate in the spaces of their competitive advantage.

It is pleasing that the criteria used to select the beneficiary companies has been the youth and women. These are categories of groups that are often left behind in terms of various assistances and yet the future lies with them. It is also exciting that some of these beneficiaries are already having contracts with Ithuba or its sister companies, as providers of services!

My message to all the 82 beneficiaries’ SMMEs present today, is that, grab this opportunity with both hands and use this seed funding to make your business work. It is through that effort that the expansion of your Start-Ups will arise. As beneficiaries, you have a responsibility and unfortunately you owe it to posterity that, these SMMEs you are leading, must never go-under, fail and become dormant.

This responsibility of making it work and succeed at all cost as entrepreneurs is an albatross to your neck, to prove to everyone that to be a black African is not synonym to failure. When people speak of black excellence, it is because they are still few and far apart. Once  black success is seen everywhere and normalized as part of our DNA in the society from corporate sector, public sector, SOEs and other areas of social endeavor, the very reference to it will disappear. So you must strive to be part of the generation of black winners and refuse to have your businesses failing and closing down.

As a country, we are peddling under difficult times of COVID-19 that has severely constrained our business environment, many of the SMMEs were forced to shut down whilst some of the big companies had to apply for business rescue. We have seen the unprecedented retrenchments unfolding in various sectors of our economy. We all agree that SMMEs have been the hardest hit and it will take some time for many of them to recover fully. It is against this reason that we applaud the fact that Ithuba made this undertaking of awarding these small businesses, inspired by the appreciation of the worse impact that COVID has had to this sector of our economy.

I hope that Ithuba has a database and a monitoring system to see the journey towards the future of these SMMEs assisted, since you began these uplifting programmes. This is important as part of your inventory and repository for purposes of legacy, but also for a continued non-financial support, such as coaching and mentorship.  I know that such a commitment takes a lot of effort and time for a business that is busy on its own operations, but sometimes such support includes doing referrals to other institutions and bodies.

In this regard, I take this opportunity to congratulate all the 82 businesses who are here to receive their Funding Awards today, may you prosper and open the doors for others in your space as you rise!

Thank you.

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