Electronic Security Systems and Cash Management in Zimbabwe: Divine Ndhlukula Presents SECURICO

Interview with Dr. Divine Ndhlukula, Founder and Managing Director of SECURICO Security Services

How do you evaluate the current landscape and emerging patterns within Zimbabwe’s security sector? What obstacles and vulnerabilities do you perceive?

When considering challenges in any sector, particularly in security, we face issues that are manageable within our scope. One notable challenge, especially in Zimbabwe, is the currency dynamics. The security industry is a significant employer, but many employees expect to be paid in stable currencies, whereas most clients prefer paying in Zimbabwean Dollars (ZWL), given the prevalent multi-currency regime. This misalignment in currency preferences creates a significant hurdle, especially since larger corporate clients often transact in ZWL due to their stockpile of local currency for procurement purposes. So, the primary challenge lies in reconciling the expectations of employees with the currency preferences of clients.

Could you offer a brief historical overview of SECURICO and outline the extent of its operations?

SECURICO is a comprehensive security company, which I often refer to as operating on a 360-degree model, encompassing various security offerings. We began with guarding services and expanded into electronic security systems, including CCTV, alarms, and access control installations. Additionally, we provide rapid response services for alarms. Another significant aspect of our business is end-to-end cash management services, catering to banks and other companies, which includes ATM replenishment and cash movement services.

These services form the core of our revenue generation. While there are additional offerings such as panic systems and applications, the primary focus remains on electronic security systems and cash management.

As for our origins, SECURICO was established 25 years ago, with humble beginnings operating from my kitchen table with just a handful of employees. Today, we are proud to be among the top three security companies in Zimbabwe, achieving this through a strategic focus on serving the top end of the market, particularly blue-chip companies.

We made a conscious decision to steer clear of government contracts due to payment delays and currency issues prevalent in that sector. Instead, our target market comprises private sector entities and development organizations like NGOs and embassies. We believe we have played a significant role in transforming the security industry in Zimbabwe. SECURICO has always prioritized quality management, becoming the first security company to obtain ISO 9001 certification back in 2005 or 2006. Subsequently, we expanded our certifications to include Quality Management Systems (QMS), Environmental Management Systems (EMS), and Occupational Health and Safety. These certifications are crucial considering our operations in sectors like mining.

Financially, we are well-capitalized, with a widespread geographical presence, spanning across all cities in Zimbabwe. This comprehensive approach has been integral to our growth and success over the years.

What are your key competitive advantages?

Our key value proposition lies in our meticulous approach to operations. We have developed a system where every task, whether it is moving cash or serving a customer, is executed with precision. Our systems are highly process-driven, ensuring clarity and accountability at every stage. Through certifications and stringent auditing processes, we maintain transparency and prevent any discrepancies from going unnoticed. This level of vigilance not only safeguards against potential disasters but also ensures that our customers consistently receive the value they deserve.

Furthermore, we have cultivated a seamless integration with our clients’ businesses. For instance, in mining environments, we provide extensive training to our personnel, tailored to the specific demands of the industry. This ensures that our staff are well-equipped to meet the unique challenges of each sector we operate in. Additionally, our rigorous follow-up and follow-through mechanisms guarantee that customer expectations are not just met but exceeded.

Our commitment to excellence is further validated by our certifications in environmental and occupational health and safety standards. In sectors like mining, where these standards are paramount, our track record speaks for itself. Recognized by entities such as the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) for our exemplary occupational health and safety practices, we have consistently set the benchmark in this regard.

Would you consider inviting investors into the company? What message would you like to convey to potential investors?

Well, yes, absolutely. Any business, in fact, is open to investors. Our company is no exception. It is an option we have been considering. We run a well-oiled operation with all our processes streamlined and our employees highly trained. We have fostered a distinct culture, what we call the SECURICO way, which has been ingrained since day one. This culture permeates through every aspect of our business, whether it is in Harare or the most remote parts of Zimbabwe. We have a solid client base who respect and appreciate our capabilities. Our reputation in the marketplace, not just in terms of business but also in leadership, is one of the strongest. People want to do business with those they trust, and we are known for walking the straight and narrow path. This integrity has earned us respect.

While your headquarters are in Zimbabwe, are there any plans to expand your operations within the region?

Absolutely. One of our core visions, since I started this business 25 years ago, was to establish ourselves as a significant player not only in Zimbabwe but also in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. We had envisioned expanding into three other countries in the SADC region by now. However, as you may understand, the economic landscape has been turbulent over the past 15 to 20 years, with numerous cycles of instability. Just when we thought we were ready to venture into Zambia, for instance, currency fluctuations wreaked havoc. Similarly, when we were considering entering Malawi, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to put our plans on hold. And even when we contemplate returning, the depreciation of the Malawi currency poses a significant challenge to our investment. These uncertainties have made expansion a cautious endeavor. Nonetheless, we remain keenly interested in the regional market and view it as a crucial aspect of our future growth strategy.

What projects are you currently working on? What is your main focus?

One of our key areas of focus for business growth is cash management and electronics, as we believe that is where the future lies with advancing technology. Currently, we are directing our efforts towards expanding these areas. We are pleased with the progress of recent installation projects we have undertaken. As a strategic decision, we have prioritized expanding our revenue streams in electronics and cash management, given the reduced need for human intervention and the potential for increased profitability.

Could you elaborate on the concept of cash management and electronics?

When we talk about cash management, it involves handling cash on behalf of various companies, including banks. Given that we are still predominantly a cash-based economy, especially with the abundance of US dollars in circulation due to our multi-currency regime, many companies prefer to receive their revenue in hard currency. As a result, we assist in managing their cash flow, both by depositing funds into banks and by physically moving cash. We have been entrusted with outsourced cash management by several banks, where we handle everything from ATM replenishment to cash distribution. This includes managing cash for tobacco companies, handling cash transfers for NGOs like UNICEF or the World Food Programme in rural areas, and other similar tasks.

In essence, our cash management services encompass the entire cash handling process, providing end-to-end solutions for our clients. We see potential for significant profitability in this area, as it requires fewer human resources while offering lucrative returns.

Similarly, when we refer to electronics, we are talking about our focus on technology-driven solutions. This includes areas such as electronic security systems like CCTV, alarm systems, and access control. We aim to expand our presence and capabilities in this field as well.

What projects are you currently undertaking in electronic security systems? Can you provide an overview of your activities?

Currently, we are focusing on projects involving the protection of infrastructure for companies like telecommunication and power companies. This includes safeguarding base stations for telecom companies and transformers for power companies across the country. We install electronic security systems to monitor and manage these assets on their behalf throughout the country.

Could you recount a notable success story from SECURICO, an accomplishment that you take pride in?

One of our major success stories was obtaining ISO 9001 certification in 2005, becoming the first in our industry to do so. This was a significant milestone for us as it demonstrated our commitment to excellence and quality management. Despite being a relatively small to medium-sized company at the time, this achievement positioned us as a serious player in the market. It was a game-changer that solidified our reputation and credibility within the industry.

Could you provide details about the awards that SECURICO has earned?

For us, the awards were really the icing on the cake. Our primary focus has always been on delivering exceptional service to our customers, and the market recognition through awards has been a testament to that. It is reflected in our ability to secure and retain key accounts. However, if I were to highlight a particular award, the Africa Award for Entrepreneurship in 2011 stands out. We were up against stiff competition, initially from 3600 companies, which was eventually narrowed down to 10 finalists who convened in Nairobi for the announcement of the winner. Despite coming from Zimbabwe, where the economy is comparatively smaller and less stable than countries like Nigeria and Kenya, we emerged victorious. The recognition we received was not just for running a successful company but also for our impact on Zimbabwean society. One of the key successes I am particularly proud of is breaking gender barriers in the security sector. When I started SECURICO, I faced resistance to hiring women from both clients and my own predominantly male management team. However, I firmly believed that intelligence and quick thinking were more important than physical strength in security roles. I had to persuade clients to accept female employees, and once they did, it became a game-changer. This is one of the success stories I am passionate about discussing – the acceptance and success of women in the security sector.

Could you provide information about your social responsibility initiatives and your activities in that area?

Social responsibility is a cornerstone of our values. We believe in giving back to the community. It is not just about running a successful business; it is about making a positive impact in the community. Even when we won the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, our efforts in social responsibility were recognized. We prioritize providing opportunities to single mothers and widows, enabling them to send their children to school and improve their livelihoods. Additionally, we are deeply committed to various education-focused projects. For instance, on the 23rd of March, we are launching a computer lab in my rural area. This project has been in the works for the past two and a half years. We have set up a laboratory three years ago, and now we have finally installed computers purchased with funds raised from book sales. It is incredibly fulfilling to see the impact these initiatives have on learners, many of whom have never even seen a computer mouse before. These are just some of the ways we are making a difference in the community.

What motivates and drives your actions? Could you share your personal philosophy?

My philosophy in life is multifaceted and deeply rooted in the belief that every good deed holds the potential to unlock new opportunities. While I am grateful for the success I have achieved in building a thriving business, my purpose transcends personal gain. What truly motivates me is the profound impact I can have on shaping the future of African business leadership.

You see, I view success not just as a measure of financial wealth, but as a platform for meaningful change. This conviction is what propels me to engage in various initiatives aimed at knowledge sharing and supporting aspiring entrepreneurs. Whether it is through speaking engagements, mentorship programs, or organizational endeavors, I am driven by the belief that by sharing what I have learned, I can inspire and empower others to reach their full potential.

Moreover, as someone who has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of education and economic empowerment, I am committed to initiatives that uplift marginalized communities, particularly women. This is why I spearheaded the establishment of the Women-Owned Business Trust, an initiative aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and economic autonomy among women. By providing access to corporate supply chains and facilitating growth opportunities, we aim to create a more equitable society where women are empowered to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and break free from cycles of economic dependency.

Furthermore, my commitment to social responsibility extends beyond business endeavors. I firmly believe that by investing in education and economic empowerment, we can address root causes of societal issues such as domestic violence. By providing individuals, regardless of their background, with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed, we can pave the way for transformative change and a brighter future for all.

In essence, my philosophy is centered around the belief that success is not just about personal achievement, but about leveraging one’s platform and resources to uplift others and create positive change in the world.

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