A dynamic Zimbabwean businesswoman has been honoured by the United Nations for her success in business. NELSON SIBANDA reports.
Divine Ndhlukula, 53, came second in UNCTAD’s Empretec Women in Business Awards and received her award from Tarja Halonen, the former President of Finland at a ceremony held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, last month.
She is the founder and managing director of Securico and attributed her success to teamwork and professionalism. “The award does not reflect my achievements as an individual but Securico as a family and Zimbabwean entrepreneurship at large. My success sends the right signals to the world that the previously sleeping giant (Zimbabwe) is slowly awakening and has a lot to offer,” said Ndhlukula. She attributed her success to the smart, highly engaged and motivated staff who are the bedrock of Securico.
The first prize went to the founder of Shefighter of Jordan, Lina Jalil Khalifeh while Lorena Maria Eugenia Picass of Argentina came third. The award honours businesswomen from developing countries who create successful companies that create jobs and became role models in their countries.
Securico is one of the largest employers outside government with a staff complement of 4,000 men and women. It started with only three guards, operating from a family kitchen table without proper offices.
The award honours her courage in starting the company from scratch without any previous experience and gives her valuable exposure and networking opportunities to raise global awareness of her business.
It also facilitates a study tour sponsored by Emerald Publishing, the possibility of receiving remote consultancy services from graduate students within the Business Schools for impact Network, VIP participation at global relevant events (World Investment Forum in Geneva-Switzerland), sponsored by UNCTAD and GIZ.
Ndhlukula will also be part of the International Women in Business Forum (Doha, Qatar), sponsored by the Qatari Businesswomen Association. This week, she will be among the top five finalists in the exceptional companies category of the Ernest and Young World Entrepreneurs’ Award to be held in South Africa.
Competitors were drawn from across Africa and the Securico boss will be among the favourites to pocket top accolades. She has already won more than 15 local and International Business awards.
Ndhlukula suffered several flops in earlier business attempts due to lack of a clear road map, before she saw opportunities in the security sector and went for it. Her attempts at transport, catering and other ventures all failed to take off.
“To realise my dreams, I had to have financial discipline and sow the values of my project into the recruited staff up to the last person in the organisation,”Ndhlukula said. She believes a key factor in the success of any endeavour is to marry the ambitions of members of staff with those of the organisation, as this leaves every stakeholder determined to reach the agreed destination.
The most important element of success, Ndhlukula said, is to know what you want, gather courage despite the challenges and take the necessary steps without wasting time. “The largest obstacle to success is the fear to execute the plan. In addition, people who get into business just to make money without the desire to add value have little chance of success,” she said.
To ensure the survival of the company, Ndhlukula has put clear succession structures in all departments and staff are encouraged to continue acquiring relevant professional knowledge.
In the past security guards were held in low esteem, but Securico has transformed the security industry in a big way. The quality of training, remuneration, staff turnout and professional conduct of the personal has made people respect the security industry like any other profession.
The company has worked tirelessly to convince clients that female guards are equally competent with men and are actually to a large extent more reliable, as they have little potential to connive in crime. To raise efficiency in the industry, Securico was a leader in the introduction of electronic deployment and supervision of security guards.
Ndhlukula gives her time to make the world a better place by sharing knowledge with other women both locally and across the world. She offers life skills and assists women to scale up their businesses.
At the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, where she is Vice President and Chairperson of the Women’s Desk, Ndhlukula has pioneered the Women in Enterprise Conference and Awards to mentor women in business in Zimbabwe and to celebrate their success. During her years in the security business she has capacitated herself by attending various developmental programmes locally and internationally.
-UNCTAD/Empretec Women in Business Award 2014
-Finalist in the EY Global Entrepreneurs Awards 2014-Exceptional category
-Woman investor of the year 2013: Zimbabwe Investment Authority
-One of the top ten Influential Entrepreneurs Post Independence Zimbabwe 2013 by Empretec
-Overall Continental Winner (services) Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government 2014: CEO Magazine South Africa
-African woman of the year 2013: Africa Achievers Awards
-National Annual Quality Awards Individual Winner 2012
-Super brand of the year 2012 and 2013 (security sector)
-African Awards for Entrepreneurship Grand Prize Winner 2011
-National Quality Awards (NAQA) company of the year 2011 (large enterprises)
-7th Best Employer for 2010, 2011 and 2013
-Most customer focussed security organisation-Service Excellence Awards 2012 and 2013
-Corporate Philanthropy Award 2013
Divine Ndhlukula was born in Gutu in 1961. She did her primary and secondary education at Zvinavashe, Bondolfi and Makumbe Mission before proceeding to Commercial Careers College for an accounting course. She worked as an accounting officer at ZBC, Old Mutual and marketing executive at South Hampton. Driven by the desire to determine her fate, she left employment and started a transport and catering business which flopped.
She then started Securico security company with three guards from her kitchen in Marlborough.The company slowly grew and she moved to offices at the National Sports Stadium. She ran the office, deployed the guards, drove the company vehicle and did the accounts among other roles.
Ndhlukula holds two MBAs from the Midlands State University and Women University in Africa. She will be embarking on PhD studies soon.Post published in: Business