A Leading Light - Advocate and lobbyist for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa: Profiling Mrs. Sylvia Banda

Sylvia Banda

If there is a name that is synonymous with the advancement of women entrepreneurs, agribusiness training for rural farmers and passion about promoting the importance of Africans striving for African solutions, it is Sylvia Banda – a legend in Zambia. Mrs. Sylvia Banda is President of the 48 member country Pan-Africa Women Entrepreneurship Programme which is aimed at empowering African women and is herself a multitalented entrepreneur. Sylvia is involved in various enterprises including training establishment in agri-business for rural farmers, as well as training in catering from Certificate to Diploma and up to Degree level at her university. She has recently opened a university on the Copperbelt of Zambia to answer the need for short training courses in specialized skills areas. Sylvia is also an exporter of traditional food products from Zambia.

Sylvia’s organisation has a regional mandate in that they have trained 20,800 small holder farmers in solar drying, spanning the 10 provinces of Zambia, five districts in Mozambique and two provinces in Tanzania. She is a strong proponent of sustainable food security with emphasis on the full value chain in agriculture through to post-harvest processing and then finding and accessing markets for processed food products. She is also a champion in popularising neglected and underutilised food species, and her company Sylva Food Solutions’ aim is to transform and incorporate them into acceptable international cuisine; she has also published the Zambian Cookbook.

Sylvia is passionate about the regional integration agenda of finding ways for new agri-producers to access markets in the region and internationally, and the importance of harmonisation of standards in the food sector.

Sylvia is nationally acclaimed for her work and has received numerous appointments including serving as Board Member of the Industrial Development Corporation which is chaired by the President of Zambia, International Board Member in the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation, and Board Chairperson of the Agri-Business Incubation Trust, apart from being the President of 48 African countries under African Women's Entrepreneurship Programme.   

When one meets Sylvia Banda, one is immediately captivated by her energy, passion, and commitment for her cause. She is also an excellent networker ensuring that new contacts and new collaborative opportunities can be created for the ultimate goal of ensuring food security and the eradication of poverty – a laudable goal indeed.