This Zimbabwean woman tackled the previously male-dominated security industry head on, achieving remarkable success and becoming one of Africa's most inspiring women entrepreneurs.
From a young age, Divine had always told herself and everyone around her that she would be an entrepreneur and run her own large business in the future. This was driven by her recognition of the need to create a decent and secure livelihood for her family. Her quest to start and run her own business stayed with her throughout her formative years when she was studying and working to build her career. She set out to learn all the critical elements needed to run a successful business, undertaking various development programmes along the way, enrolling on an Entrepreneurial Development Programme in 1995. At the same time, she started researching and tracking various entrepreneurial opportunities in the local marketplace, eventually in 1998 seeing a potential business opportunity in the security services sector. Divine had identified what she saw as glaring service delivery and professionalism gaps in the private security sector, inspiring her to create and build a new type of security company with a difference. She was also motivated by a desire to empower previously disadvantaged women in Zimbabwe who were not able to access opportunities for formal employment, recognizing that the security sector had the potential to be a large-scale employer.
Humble beginnings: Divine started up her new business venture, SECURICO in December 1998, using a small cottage on her property as an office, equipped with one desk, and staffed by three security operatives and one administrator in addition to herself.
Divine started up her new business venture, SECURICO in December 1998, using a small cottage on her property as an office, equipped with one desk, and staffed by three security operatives and one administrator in addition to herself. She did all the office administrative work, the financial accounting, training, supervising and deploying her security guards using her one vehicle. In the early days, her business encountered a number of major challenges, the first being that the security sector in Zimbabwe was historically very male dominated, and there was a general perception that security was not a job for women. Divine’s first challenge was to convince potential clients that she could successfully run a security services business, and ensure the services provided were of the highest professional standard, all despite being a woman herself, and employing women as security guards in the business. Initially, clients needed a considerable amount of persuasion to accept her business model and approach, particularly when it came to hiring women guards to provide key security services to their businesses and industry interests. However, she persisted and today, women are widely accepted in the security services industry. Her other challenge was her lack of specific industry knowledge on running a business in the highly specialized security services industry, but she learned practically on the job, innovating as she went and making significant changes to the way the business was traditionally run, as a result out-performing the competition along the way. Her final challenge was launching a new security services brand in a marketplace that had been dominated by a small number of big name players for so many years. Funding in the early years was also an issue, but Divine took a decision to make do with the small amount of funding she had, and ploughing back all the profits into the business to help it to grow.
Divine is a true champion of women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe and is currently the largest employer of women in the country outside the government sector, with 900 women employees on her payroll.
Back then, the company focused on offering uniformed guarding services, eventually growing to the point where it could also offer cash and assets–in–transit services by 2002. Today, SECURICO has grown exponentially and is now the market leader in this service in Zimbabwe with a fleet of over 80 armoured vehicles. In 2008, the company acquired an electronic security systems company, MULTI-LINK (PVT) LTD, transforming the company into a high tech specialist installer of the latest innovative and cutting edge electronic security solutions. Over the last two years, the company has grown to be the second largest in Zimbabwe in the provision of electronic security systems like CCTV, access control systems, alarms, remote site monitoring and response services, electric fences etc. Divine has not rested on her laurels despite the success over the years. Today, the company also specializes in undertaking private investigations, employment vetting, risk assessments, security policy formulation, setting up security systems and establishing security profiles of employees. A further subsidiary company was also formed in 2005, Canine Dog Services, specializing in the breeding, training and leasing of guard dogs.