A renowned female leader and food and nutrition entrepreneur, Sylva Banda of Zambia will be speaking at Brescia University College on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
When Brescia professor June Matthews learned Banda was coming to London, she recognized that Banda, a leader in both female leadership and food and nutrition, exemplified much of what is at the heart of a Brescia education.
Matthews worked with International Development Enterprises (IDE) to bring Banda to Brescia for a public lecture on Nov.18 from 5 – 7 p.m. in the auditorium in the St. James Building.
Banda has many claims to fame. She was honoured as one of the six most outstanding entrepreneurs in Africa and the American biographers have voted her as Woman of the Year.
Perhaps the biggest legacy she has created is Sylva Catering of Zambia, which she started when she was only 24 years old. At that time she realized that if she continued with her job in the public service she would, like many before her, die in poverty. Knowing that she could not afford a bank loan in her country, with its 49 per cent interest rate, she used $100 of her own money and dared to dream.
The small restaurant that she founded in 1987 had no furniture but it did serve to promote indigenous Zambian foods and began to address the need for training in food preservation and preparation.
Driven by her entrepreneurial spirit, Sylva Professional Catering is now a multi-million dollar enterprise made up of several companies as well as a professional catering college from which more than 5,000 students have graduated since 1997.
Sylva Catering uses locally-sourced, quality vegetables, creating income opportunities for thousands of Zambian farmers. Sylva’s Food Solutions organizes post-harvest workshops through CARE Zambia, World Vision, and IDE to train rural farmers in traditional food preservation and marketing. Through her business, her school, and her speaking engagements, Banda inspires and encourages other African entrepreneurs to create a new future for themselves and their communities.
Founded by Dr. Paul Polak (Western MD ’58), IDE is a development enterprise that treats subsistence farmers as customers, designing innovative and affordable irrigation technologies and water purification products. Over three million families have seen their incomes double or triple as a result of small-scale irrigation solutions and improved market opportunities.
To support women and men who earn less than $2 a day, admission to this event is $2.00. The money will be used to support the work of IDE.
As Brescia’s 2008 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching, Matthews met Polak and members of the IDE Executive at Convocation last year. She was inspired by Polak’s vision and the market-based approach he brings to poverty alleviation. Matthews was also intrigued by his description of very low cost, life-saving products and technologies created by interdisciplinary teams of university students.
“Given that food and education are the first two investments that families make when they increase their income, Ms. Banda’s presentation complements several key aspects of Brescia: women’s education and leadership; internationalization; and our program in foods and nutrition. I am delighted that Londoners will have the opportunity to learn more about this amazing entrepreneur as well as the work of IDE in Zambia,” says