For most young Africans, the next hurdle after completing tertiary education is securing a job to help lay a solid foundation for the future.
Facing a persistently high unemployment rate, Mary Tackie-Yaoboi, a young female graduate of Knutsford University College in Ghana, decided to take her destiny into her own hands by establishing a business to create jobs for herself and other young females in the country.
Also, being tired of constant disappointments in her quest to get enlisted into any of the state security services, and with her passion for working in the security sector, Tackie-Yaoboi set up an all-female private security company where she could realize her life-long ambition.
“I am the chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of She Guards, an all-female private security company, the first of its kind in Ghana. We provide services at weddings, parties, conferences, exhibitions, and corporate events. We also offer personal escort services to tourists and dignitaries,” Tackie-Yaoboi told Xinhua in a recent interview.
The female guards turned out smartly at events in their all-black security outfits, either as guards, aids, or escorts, ensuring that everything goes well with no security hitches or glitches.
“I have always had a passion for joining the security services. But I tried for several years without success. I remained unemployed for three years while still following and chasing this dream, buying forms, going for screening, and taking examinations, without success,” she said.
But due to her passion for the security vocation, Tackie-Yaoboi said, “I thought to myself, why not set up a private security company? I studied human resource management in school, and security is also about personnel management.”
Her inspiration came from the fact that there were all-female security companies in other countries doing well, “so I decided to do something similar.”
“Moreover, Ghana is becoming a destination for tourism, conferences, and events alongside the growing business environment. With these also comes the need for private security, and I foresaw that opportunity and decided to take advantage of it,” she added.
She first secured a job with an all-male security company that was willing to employ her as the only female among the males. “They are all male but were willing to offer me the opportunity to give me the experience and the training I needed. So I was with them for a while, but still was not fulfilled because that is not where I wanted to be.”
After a few years with the male security company, Tackie-Yaoboi decided to move on and set up the all-female security firm to fulfill her passion and goals.
Another reason that drove the 29-year-old to set up the company was to make a case for gender mainstreaming in the sector.
Ghana officially started licensing private security companies in 1992 to enhance supervision and ensure the optimal safety of patrons. But the sector is male-dominated, with just a few females.
“There are women in the system. But mostly, when people think of security, they think of the males,” the young CEO said.
But the truth, she said, “is that most women have special needs, and we know what women want, and some of the things are private which male guards will not be able to help them. So we saw that as an opportunity to be able to assist.”
Her company now provides security services for female celebrities and prominent people in society. “You know women have empathy, so we work with that, and then it goes well.”
Even though the sector is competitive, Tackie-Yaoboi is brimming with confidence that She Guards will survive.
She added that some of the security companies also invite them when requiring specific female needs.
She conceded that the beginning had not been easy. “But I am prepared to work hard to break through the difficult times to succeed.”
Due to the rowdiness of certain events, She Guards collaborates with state law enforcement agencies to get their intervention in challenging situations.
“We are not afraid as we train enough and are well equipped to control situations; when it escalates, the police come in because we have established a strong relationship with state security,” she added.
She admitted that standing for long hours is not easy, “the boots are hot; we are standing under the sun, dehydrated. It involves a lot, so we do physical training to remain in top shape.”
Through Tackie-Yaoboi’s initiative, young women, who with a passion for security and escort services but were not able to not get enlistment in the state security services, could still realize their dream by working with She Guards or any other all-female security companies that sprung up later.
So far, the company has more than 20 guards. Mavis Debrah is an auto mechanic who wanted to be in the state security apparatus without success, but now works with She Guards.
“The security sector is one thing I am passionate about. I found out She Guards and went through the training. Here I am,” said Debrah, adding that it is a decision she will never regret.