From 4 workers to an empire: The untold story of how Divine built a security giant from her cottage


DR Divine Ndhlukula, the founder and managing director of Securico Security Services, is a remarkable individual who has garnered global recognition as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. With a remarkable track record of over 20 prestigious awards since 1998, Dr Ndhlukula has revolutionised the security services sector in Zimbabwe.

Born as Divine Simbi in the rural outpost of Gutu, Masvingo province in 1960, she received her primary and secondary education in the same region. Dr Ndhlukula, who was married to the late Stanley Ndhlukula, embarked on a mission to transform the male-dominated security services sector in Zimbabwe.

In 1998, she took the bold step of founding DDNS Security Operations (Private) LTD, which later became known as Securico. Starting with just four employees and an office in a converted cottage at her house, Dr Ndhlukula’s vision was to bring innovation and excellence to the security services industry.

Through unwavering dedication to service excellence, a motivated and disciplined workforce, and technological innovation, Securico has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the leading players in Zimbabwe’s security services sector, winning multiple awards along the way.

The company has set several trends, being the first successful woman-owned security company in Zimbabwe and attaining international standards through ISO certification, including ISO 9001 for Quality Management System, ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety, and ISO 14001 for Environmental Management.

Securico achieved several notable milestones, such as becoming the first indigenous security company in Zimbabwe to offer asset/cash-in-transit services in 2002 and establishing subsidiary companies like Canine Dog Services in 2005 and Multi-Link (Pvt) Ltd. Dr Ndhlukula’s vision is to position Securico as a world-class market leader in providing professional security solutions to satisfy both internal and external clients.

With branches established in every town across Zimbabwe, Securico employs over 4 000 workers, 900 of them being women. Dr Ndhlukula’s recent visit to Malawi reflects the company’s expansion plans into the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region, with Malawi serving as the initial destination.

However, the remarkable growth and success of Securico did not come easily. Dr Ndhlukula had to face significant challenges breaking into the male-dominated sector and overcoming deliberate attempts to undermine her. Additionally, she fought tirelessly for the employment of women as security guards, making Securico arguably the largest employer of women outside of the Government in Zimbabwe.

Dr Ndhlukula emphasises the crucial role women play in the workforce, stating, “We have over 4 000 workers, and women account for about 900. To achieve that number was no mean feat because at the time we started, there were less than half a percent women.

But because I deliberately fought for their acceptance, we employ about 25 percent women at Securico. It was not just a social cause for me; there was a business case because women are generally more honest and reliable, especially during times of hyperinflation.”

Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Dr Ndhlukula gained valuable experience working for various organisations such as ZBC, Old Mutual, and Intermarket. She attributes her success to the strong work ethic instilled in her by her late parents during her upbringing.

“I believe I am just that African woman who grew up in some rural outpost with extremely hardworking parents. The culture of working hard permeated my life, and my parents were always encouraging.

While my father wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer, I see myself as representing women and girls in many ways. I am a doctor in the sense that the women we employ at Securico are mainly widows who have expressed that if they hadn’t been given this opportunity, they would have struggled to survive,” said Dr Ndhlukula in an interview in Victoria Falls.

Despite facing resistance from clients and managers who were skeptical about women working in the security sector, Dr Ndhlukula stood firmly for their rights. Many of the women employed by Securico are widows or living with various ailments, yet they are able to support their families thanks to the support provided by Dr Ndhlukula. Her efforts align with the Government’s vision of uplifting lives and creating an upper middle-income society by 2030.

Dr Ndhlukula believes that modern security is not solely reliant on physical strength, but also encompasses intellectual and technical aspects. She advocates for equal opportunities in the industry, stating, “Security of today is not about muscle; it is intellectual and technical. Anyone, regardless of gender, can excel in this field.”

In addition to her role as a businessperson, Dr Ndhlukula is also involved in farming and runs a successful livestock project in Featherstone. She has always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit, even during her employment days, as she engaged in various informal businesses.

It was during a visit to Europe that she observed the respect given to security guards, which inspired her to seize the opportunity and start her own security company. Today, Securico is present in every town across Zimbabwe and is expanding its operations into Malawi.

Dr Ndhlukula’s approach to business extends beyond traditional manned guarding. Securico specialises in electronic security systems, including CCTV installations, alarms, power backup systems, and cash management.

The company embraces technology and artificial intelligence, which play significant roles in criminal management. Real-time tracking of vehicles and monitoring through CCTV cameras ensure the safety and security of cash movements for banks.

Dr Ndhlukula emphasises the importance of prompt response, striving to react to distress calls within eight minutes.

Securico’s impressive growth, expanding client base, and technological innovations have positioned the company as a formidable competitor on the global stage. In December of this year, Securico will celebrate its silver jubilee since its establishment, having already accumulated over 25 separate accolades in addition to the numerous awards won by its founder.

Notably, in 2011, Securico won the coveted grand prize at the Africa Awards, surpassing 3 300 other firms.

Her impact extends beyond the business world. As a humanitarian, she has established bursaries to support girls’ education, particularly in her hometown. In November 2022, she opened the Mbuya Mary Simbi library in response to low pass rates caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The library benefits eight schools and has a positive impact on over 6 000 individuals. Additionally, Dr Ndhlukula has initiated various programmes that have benefitted close to 4 000 woman-headed families.

Her philanthropic work has garnered recognition both locally and internationally, including being named one of the 50 women over 50 years who have made an impact in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region for 2023.

With two Master’s degrees from Midlands State University and Women’s University in Africa, along with a PhD in Business Leadership, Dr Ndhlukula is not only a successful businesswoman but also a devoted family person. She is a mother of eight and a grandmother of two.

— Chronicle

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