Africa has the distinction of being the only continent in the world which has more women entrepreneurs than men - yet their businesses are more likely to underperform and don't make as much profit as those of men.
On top of lacking access to capital women too have to deal with a lot of social constraints which men have the luxury of not giving a second thought.
A woman is demanded to expertly juggle between being a good wife, a good mother and a good businesswoman all at once without dropping any balls. Sometimes faced with a hard decision to choose one, often times women end up preferring to keep peace at home and only pursue business interest as long as it cannot eat away ‘family time’
“Lack of accessing capital is one issue which is holding women back but in my view women have got other issues that they got to deal with for them to grow, yes lack of capital is a challenge but capital basically becomes a function of the market so women have got to access sustainable markets too for them to grow. They also have social constraints to deal with, a woman is demanded to be a good wife, a good mother and still expected to be a good business manager that is a competition right there between your work and your home and these social constraints don’t make women go as they would want to,” Dr Divine Ndhlukula, one of Africa’s most successful businesswoman told BBC Africa.
Dr Ndhlukuja is the founder and managing director of Securico Security services, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies.
She founded Securico from humble beginnings in 1998 and over time slowly nurtured it to become the market leader in Zimbabwe it is today.
SECURICO today provides its clients with a complete security solution - uniformed armed officers, armoured vehicles for transportation of valuables, onsite banking, trained guard dogs, and electronic security systems.
In December 2011, Divine won the Africa Award for Entrepreneurship ahead of 3,400 nominees in 48 African countries. Her company, Securico, has won 11 national awards since the company started operations in 1998 and is the first Zimbabwean security outfit to obtain the ISO international Quality Management certification.
Thanks to her wit, courage and sheer determination she has tackled a previously male-dominated industry head on and her business success story is nothing short of remarkable - marking her as one of Africa's most tenacious and inspiring women entrepreneurs.
When asked her secret for success, here are three golden rules of making it in Africa especially if you are a woman.
Divine identified a need in the market for a quality-oriented security company and seized it and has never looked back.
Before venturing into any business, Divine says it is imperative for African women to do their homework and once they identify a gap in the market to leap forward without fear and learn on the job if need be.
“Basically, I grew up as an entrepreneur, I always knew I wanted to be in business. I saw an opportunity in the security sector at the time I was also getting services from the sector and I went for it,”
This cannot be stressed enough. Before an African woman even thinks of venturing into any business most of the time, they already have a lot on their plate and therefore getting the support of your family is not only important but also practical.
Running a business is no child play and when the going gets tough you can be sure once you get back home at the end of the day tired and worn out you can be able to breathe easy since your family knows what you go through daily when society comes for you with their demand of how a ‘good African wife’ should be you can rest easy knowing your better half has your back.
“It is critically important to get support from whoever family members you have with whether it is your siblings, your husband or your children. For me, I think I have built what I call a smart partnership with my husband who is late now, with my kids and with my siblings such that each and every one of them played a key role in what I was doing and I ensured I carried them along,” said Divine.
There are not two ways about this it is simple; If you cannot believe in yourself who will?
“For me everything boils down to self-confidence, the belief that I can be what I want to be, I am entitled to be successful, the belief that I can conceive something and achieve it at whatever level I want, I think is the key thing everything else follows as long as your mind is one,” said Divine.
Dr Divine Ndhlukula was named 2019 Forbes Africa Business Woman of the Year and recently deemed the 'Queen of the security industry in Zimbabwe' by BBC World.