The story of SECURICO is one of the most inspiring stories ever to be shared in this time. It is a demonstration of the results when a woman-led enterprise is given an opportunity to participate in the economy of a country. The positive outcomes which transform and contribute to the growth of an economy, improvement in the livelihoods of people, reduction in poverty, job creation, better educated and healthier societies are immeasurable. It also speaks the ability of what women can do in order to empower another woman, if given a chance.
Driven by a strong will to transform the economic landscape for women in Zimbabwe and with full knowledge that investing in one woman, transforms economies, SECURICO was formed in 1998. A wholly women owned enterprise, SECURICO, provides diversified security solutions from manned Guard Services, Cash and Assets movement, Cash Management, Electronic security systems installations, Guard Dogs and Risk Assessments.
Due to commitment to excellence and a passion for success, 16 years later, SECURICO is one of the best brands to come out of Zimbabwe. Divine Ndhlukula, a multiple award winner, started SECURICO at her kitchen table with five employees, and the company has grown to be the leading security organization in Zimbabwe employing over 3,800 employees (over 900 of them being women) with branches throughout Zimbabwe, with regional expansion on the cards.
With the success, Divine has received numerous business awards and has become one of the most influential business women in Zimbabwe, the SADC region and has attracted the attention of global business players keen to learn about the story behind the success of women entrepreneurs in Africa – a continent known for affording the least opportunities to women.
The security industry in Zimbabwe is primarily dominated by male owned companies. However, in 1998, Divine Ndhlukula, due to her entrepreneurial flair, identified a gap in the security market that needed an institution with a totally different mind-set to fill.
Empowerment of women
This transformation was not easy however, as one of her push factors was to create an opportunity for decent living for previously disadvantaged women; women who were either divorced, widowed or single. Her desire was to create access to wealth and improve the basic living standards for women. Employment creation was one of the most sustainable ways of making a positive economic impact to that target group.
Divine has had to fight tooth and nail to create space for these women. 16 years later, SECURICO has more than 900 women working in different capacities and they are arguably the largest employer of women in Zimbabwe outside government.
Initially the market was resistant to this new order of business in the private security sector. This has however changed as, not only was this because of the social need, but became one of the very reasons behind SECURICO’s success. This saw a trend in which Zimbabwean security organizations began to actively employ women thus raising the employment rate of women in the sector to slightly over 10 per cent from a mere 0.4 per cent in 1999.
As women are naturally more stable and reliable, they proved to be a very good business case in the provision of security services in an economy fraught with far too many challenges and women were better to rise to the occasion.
Divine holds a conviction that in African societies, which are heavily patriarchal, the empowerment of vulnerable women (a group that is mostly forgotten and not recognized) is one of the most valuable and enduring methods of including women in the development, maintenance and improvement of their communities’ and countries’ business infrastructure.
True to her driving factor, the results of investing in women have had a resounding result. Children have been educated up to university level, women now own houses that has seen an improvement in their living conditions, food security for children has been achieved, healthy families has been raised and most importantly women have been given a voice.
Divine’s company has had immense influence in the improvement of professionalism and quality standards in the private security sector in Zimbabwe. Once her company gained a foothold on the market, Divine deliberately advocated for and promoted ethical conduct, professionalism and standardization – a strategy that was aimed at levelling the playing field through improvement of service quality and destroying patronage and unethical conduct.
She took the strategy further when her company became the first private security organization to be certified to the ISO 9001 Quality Management System in Zimbabwe. In an industry that was characterized by poor service quality, lack of professionalism and low employee morale, the certification galvanized the sector and started a revolution that has seen six other private security organizations in Zimbabwe transforming their operations and attaining ISO 9001 certification.
SECURICO’s system has since been upgraded to a full Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality management system by certifying to ISO 18001 Occupational Health and Safety and the ISO 14001 Environmental Management system. In addition, SECURCO has automated its business systems to match that of global players, posing it for smooth expansion onto the global playing field.
The need to influence policies has seen her serving as a Vice President of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and she also served as a Chairman of the Security Association of Zimbabwe for 4 years at a time when the economy was in a tailspin during the hyperinflationary period. This called for leadership that had to do a lot of lobbying and advocacy for companies to remain in business.
Divine Ndhlukula, the grand prize winner of the African Awards for Entrepreneurship in 2011, was awarded the Woman Investor of the Year by the Zimbabwean Investment Authority in 2013. This award recognised her contribution towards the development of the business infrastructure of Zimbabwe.
SECURICO’s sustainability strategy focuses on investing in its people through capacity building, investing in world class bench marked business systems and international operating standards and sustainable community engagement programs.
By prioritising its people as its most valued asset, SECURICO has been adjudged one of the top 10 Best Employers in Zimbabwe for four years running: 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Its employee welfare schemes are amongst the best in the country which has made it an employer of choice.
SECURICO’s community Engagement programs concentrates on 3 Es which are Empowerment of Women, Education and Environmental management. These three focus areas has made SECURICO’s MD, Divine Ndhlukula, amongst the most sought after global speakers where she is invited to share her thought leadership regarding managing and growing a sustainable enterprises.
Divine, a holder of 2 Masters degrees, promotes the education of vulnerable Children in various disadvantaged communities through a long standing partnership with World Vision. Her world-view is that communities can be developed through education and empowering community members to define their own destinies. Her company also runs a successful bursary scheme for employee’s children that has seen scores graduating from local universities and winning scholarships to international universities including Harvard. The Divine Ndhlukula Foundation aims to see many disadvantaged girls rise to the pinnacle of their capabilities by affording them Ivy League education.
Working with many organizations, Divine pioneered the Mentorship In Practice initiative that of women entrepreneurs that want to start up or aspire to scale up their small businesses. Her success found her unwittingly becoming a national and international role model for women entrepreneurship. Hesitantly at first she took up and warmed to the role as demand for the story increased in Zimbabwe and beyond. For her business is not only about the success of the company she founded but also working towards the creation of enablers that will transform Zimbabwe and the region into an attractive investment destination and a hub for entrepreneurship. Universities have also benefited as her story has become a case study.
The SADC region continues to spawn women entrepreneurs thanks to business leaders in the mould of Divine Ndhlukula whose success stories have helped to change the way women are perceived in the business community which now perceives women as a low risk and dependable partners. The success of women owned businesses has gone a long way in breaking down the psychological and cultural barriers that hindered the entry of women into formal business.
Although Zimbabwean women entrepreneurs still face huge challenges in accessing funds due to the debilitating liquidity crunch that hit the country since the adoption of the multi-currency regime six years ago, the perception of women as business people has gradually improved. Zimbabwean women have managed to make inroads into hitherto male dominated sectors of the economy such as private security, banking, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and education.
Despite the apparent gloomy outlook, Divine pragmatically notes that the current economic situation in Zimbabwe is the best for women entrepreneurs to flourish provided that they receive competitive lines of credit and support.