Divine Ndhlukula, is the founder and Managing Director of SECURICO, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies, based in Harare. SECURICO provides bespoke guarding services and leading-edge electronic security solutions.
As an amazon of great repute, Ndhlukula has pioneered a move of change and created room for the women folk in the male dominated security industry.
This Zimbabwean iron lady came into the industry prepared; she bagged an Executive MBA from Midlands State University and an MBA (Honorary) from Women’s University of Africa, in recognition of her business leadership and efforts on gender equality. She also has an accounting diploma from an institution in Zimbabwe.
Ndhlukula began dreaming of life as an entrepreneur in her early teen years. She always had a vision of running a very large business, and she shared her dream with everyone who cared to listen. After graduating with an Executive MBA and obtaining an accounting diploma, Ndhlukula worked briefly for the government and for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as an accounting officer before moving into the Insurance industry where she spent a few years. All the while, she kept her dream and hope alive.
Her journey to world acclaim was certainly not without bumps and thistles. For Divine Ndhlukula, drawbacks and adversaries are most times the building blocks of the house of glory.
Her major challenge was raising enough capital to launch her business; but she wasn’t going to give up or grovel before anyone; instead she took a decision to fight her way through.
In determination, she took up an extra job and while at it, she started ordering clothes from Harare factories and selling them to colleagues at work. From her income, Ndhlukula bought one 8-tonne truck, which she hired out to a construction company.
Shortly after that, the tireless entrepreneur was faced with another challenge; she had to rescue and take over her late father’s farm which her brother had used as collateral to acquire a loan in local bank, she quit her job and went into the farming business. To keep the farm going, the business woman took out a loan, using her house as security, and when the crop failed in 1995, she came dangerously close to losing her home.
And because she is never one to accept defeat, Ndhlukula returned to her old employer in the insurance industry. While there, she progressed brilliantly and that landed her in the company’s executive team. Having learned critical business lessons the hard way, Ndhlukula enrolled herself in an Entrepreneurial Development Programme. That way, she sharpened her business and leadership skills.
Her grand opportunity presented itself in 1998, when the trail blazer noticed the gap in the Zimbabwean security services sector, she knew she had a lot to offer the country and so she birthed her company.
Who could imagine that a business that started with just four employees in a little cottage and very little capital would eventually grow to become one of the largest security firms in the country?
In less than 16 years of doing business, SECURICO has achieved a number of unparalleled feats: The $13 million (revenues) company now has more than 3,400 employees – 900 of whom are disadvantaged women, making Securico the largest employer of women in the private sector in Zimbabwe. In her interview with BBC African Dream, she shares her joy:
“Most of the women that we employ here are single mothers, we targeted them primarily because we knew that they were not going to get an opportunity from anybody and they would not be able to look after their children. So this is an opportunity for them to have a livelihood and to educate their children. We employ close to a thousand women now, about 900+ and to me that’s one of the happiest things I’ve done in my life as a person because I have impacted very positively on women who would have not have had an opportunity, who would be eking out a living and possibly even going out to sell their bodies to make a living.”
The company was also the first security outfit in Zimbabwe to achieve an ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) certification. In December 2012, the company was the winner of the prestigious Legatum Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship. And in the same year, the business icon was named one of Africa’s most successful women by Forbes magazine.
Ndhlukula’s Philosophy in life and business is clear: “never tire in well doing, because, in due season, you shall reap if you faint not”. “I believe that every good deed is a door opener hence I always try to be as good as I can to others, my word being my bond, as the key to my success is loving and connecting with people which are always the seeds of great things to come. I believe in playing by the rules all the time and most importantly upholding my personal integrity as this gives me good night sleep.”
In her interview with Forbes magazine, she shares some of her success secrets especially for aspiring entrepreneurs;
“My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is start with an end in mind, know exactly what you want to achieve and start to work systematically towards the goal, exercising some patience. Know the industry you want to get into, its internal and external environment.
Work your plan with passion, determination and diligence, and when a bit of cash starts rolling in, have the discipline to know that it is not your money yet.”
And to African women she says;
“If you want a certain future, go out and create it. Conquer your fears as that is what enslaves most women. Opportunities are now galore. We just need to roll up our sleeves, lift our feet, and walk through the door as no one will carry us.
Have a game plan and execute it with passion, determination and focus. Never mind that you are a woman. Do not think about that except as a competitive advantage. No one is going to give you anything on a silver platter. You have to work twice, thrice, five times as hard and do not lose focus. Work with your passion, it will keep you going and once you have a footing in your business, make the most of it and create the momentum and that will get rid of all the little challenges that may bog you down. Lastly, choose your team carefully and get rid of non-performers soon enough.”