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Zimbabwean Entrepreneur Secures Successful Business Despite Tough Economy

posted 21 Mar 2013, 07:51 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2013, 07:52 ]

Founder and managing director of Zimbabwe's first ISO certified Security Company, SecuricoDivine Ndhlukula has risen above the odds of life in a country with economic and political woes to make her company a success.

 HARAREZIMBABWE  (REUTERS) -  Every morning Divine Ndhlukula makes a spot check on her security personnel before they deploy to various stations around Zimbabwe's capital,Harare.

Ndhlukula is the founder and managing director of Securico, one of the largest security service providers in the country.

A passion for entrepreneurship inspired the 52-year-old to set up the firm in 1998, even without any security background.

Ndhlukula is a trained accountant and a holder of a masters degree in business administration from Midlands State University in Zimbabwe.

Before Securicor, she worked for various companies in the capital Harare.

"We started Securico just you know as a joke, it was a mere idea, an idea that I didn't think that it will get to this level, but we started from a cottage in my house, with four employees, obviously I had done a feasibility study in terms of what the security market was offering, how the security market was, and the reason how why I started this company was also the fact that I saw there was a gap in the market," said Ndhlukula.

The entrepreneur says the biggest challenge she has had to deal with is discrimination. Many people did not have faith in a woman's ability to thrive in a security business environment dominated by men.

Some firms even refused to give her contracts believing she could not pull the job off.

But Ndhlukula proved her critics wrong and has successfully overseen the survival of Securico through an economy that was recently on the verge of collapse.

Crisis struck the southern African country ten years ago after president Robert Mugabe's nationalist policies saw the seizure and redistribution of white-owned commercial farms to blacks.

The economy shrunk by 40 percent and inflation went on an upward spiral.

Although a unity government that came to power after disputed presidential elections in 2008 has eased political tensions and helped stabilize the economy, the country suffers from hyperinflation of more than 500 billion percent according to the ministry of finance.

These obstacles notwithstanding, Ndhlukula says Securico continues on a growth path. The company is worth about 8 million US dollars in assets, and has an expected turnover of over I6 million US dollars by the end of the year.

The firm offers services to multinationals and blue-chip companies, and has employed 3,500 people, 900 of who are women.

"We got an array of all security solutions, we provide guarding services, we provide cash movements, we provide rapid response services, we do electronic security systems like we do installation of CCTV's, access control systems, we also do private investigations, basically we do anything security," she said.

Securicor is the first security company to be ISO Certified in Zimbabwe, an international assurance that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.

In 2011 the company was recognised for being one of the continent's leaders in business excellence. The company beat 3,300 other firms to scoop a 100,000 US dollars prize at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurs held in Kenya.

Ndhlukula says the firm's fortunes can only get better now that Zimbabwe's economy has started to improve and as a recently endorsed constitution begins to hopefully trim presidential powers and pave way for elections in the second half of this year.

Mugabe has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980 and isAfrica's oldest president at 89.

Against the backdrop of a new law, Ndhlukula is optimistic her ambitious five-year plan can be accomplished. She intends to expand Securicor's operations beyond Zimabawe's borders, and turn over 70 million US dollars per annum.