Private security firms are making a killing

Fighting crime has become big business for South Africa's security industry, which is worth about R40billion a year.

Fighting crime has become big business for South Africa's security industry, which is worth about R40billion a year.

As crime escalates, many communities rely ever more on private security for protection.

The fear of crime also motivates whole communities to establish their own protection systems, as seen everywhere with fenced-in residential areas that can only be entered through booms at gates.

The trend is spreading, especially in Gauteng, where private security companies make fortunes guarding these areas.

Many people are prepared to pay huge amounts to security companies for patrols around their dwellings.

Ordinary householders who paid R200 a month for security a few years ago, now pay between R300 and R400 for the service.

Security guards scare criminals away and crime prevention has become a top concern, not only for individual families, but also for businesses.

The increasing demand for private security services has changed the perception people had about the security industry.

For many years, the industry was dominated by former military and police personnel. But now, more entrepreneurs are getting involved in private security companies.

Many security companies are now listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and more investors are showing an interest in the industry.

The 2010 Soccer World Cup presents an opportunity for those who want to enter this business. Increased security is needed to reduce criminal activity and to protect international tourists.

The government is trying to redress economic imbalances in many industries, including the security industry. Government tenders favour emerging security companies owned by black people. So many established security companies invite black security companies to join them as shareholders.

Many mergers and partnerships have taken place and more are expected.

Someone aspiring to enter this industry can consider becoming a partner in an established company or can establish a new company.

Emerging security businesses have an advantage. The high prices that are charged force many people to cancel their contracts with established businesses. They prefer doing business with small companies that can provide a cheaper service.

Small companies can provide a professional service at cheaper rates.

But a great deal of research is required before starting a security business. Start by finding out applicable regulations from your local authority. Then check with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority what exactly you need to do to start your own security company.