Monday, 20 September 2010


Ambassador Sheila Siwela (r) and Mrs. Sylvia Banda (l)
CEO of Sylva Food Solutions
By Ben Kangwa in Washington D.C.
Sylva Food Solutions Inc., a Zambian registered Food company participated at a meeting of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) that took place in conjunction with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Washington DC.
The meeting in Washington took place between July 26 – August 3, Kansas City, Missouri from August 4 to 6.
The women in the AWEP are accomplished entrepreneurs, owners and leaders of small and medium-sized businesses in Africa and whose companies engage in exporting products to the US under the AGOA terms.
Through AWEP, the women were expected to establish relationships with partners in the US in order with the hope of exchanging ideas and in order to see how best the women could increase their export capacity to the US.
During this year’s AGOA Forum, AWEP tackled various issues such as the Intergration of women into the global economy, better nutrition and food security. 34 African women entrepreneurs participated by way of meeting with US officials, exhibits and by taking part in various discussions on AGOA and business in Africa and the US.
A high powered panel comprising Zambia’s Chief Executive Officer  of Sylva Food Solutions, 
Mrs. Sylvia Banda, the World Bank Managing Director Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , the President of the African Association of Agro Exports , Mrs. Marie Andree-Tall and the Chief Executive Officer of Homefoods Processing and Cannery Limited of Ghana, Mrs. Felicia Twumasi discussed the topic “How Africa Can Attract Investment.”
In setting the stage, the  World Bank Managing Director, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala at this occasion advised African governments to improve the quality of infrastructure so as to become competitive in the current globalised environment.
“Clearly, the lack of well functioning transport and trade facilitation regimes hinder many countries from achieving economic growth,” she said
She also said simplified customs and export procedures to quickly move goods across borders were needed to reduce the cost of doing business and added that the poor business and regulatory practices had imposed a huge toll on trade which had eroded benefits from trade agreements.
In her presentation, the Chief Executive Officer of Homefoods Processing and Cannery Limited,

Cowpeas leaves and cassava leaves
Mrs. Felicia Twumasi urged African business women to expand their businesses into related fields instead of moving from one unrelated business to another.
She also urged women to practice good habits of savings and good record keeping to ensure that they qualified for micro financing to expand their businesses.
Mrs. Twumasi added that her company saw the purchasing of raw materials from women and their children in rural areas as empowering parents in catering for their families and the education of their children.

The President of the African Association of Agro Exports, Mrs. Marie Andree-Tall sated the need for concrete efforts to be made by African women entrepreneurs to establish and maintain stronger links at all levels to deal with the challenges of global markets.
Cassava leaves
She said the coming together of African women at AGOA was meant for them and their US partners to work together to build their capacities and to network economically for both parties.
Chief Executive Officer of Sylva Food Solutions Limited Inc Mrs Sylvia Banda explained that her company buys produce from rural farmers who have been trained to preserve nutritious indigenous food in the most hygienic manner.
She said her company solar dries indigenous vegetables such as  kalembula  (sweet potato leaves), kanunkha (black jack), kachesha (cowpeas leaves)  and  chibwabwa  (pumpkin leaves) which are currently sold on the local market
The company has also introduced  new products such as canned village chicken and canned goat meat on the local market and was looking for possible markets  abroad.
She explained that as a result of the good business relations between her Company and the rural farmers, her company had immensely contributed to improved livelihoods of the rural people.

Commenting on the role of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the growth of the economy in Zambia, Mrs. Banda noted that SMEs were the largest employment creator and contributor to economic growth in Zambia.
She said the SMEs were the largest employer in Zambia today responsible for about seventy percent of the employed population stating the need for them to unlock the potential of contributing to the nation’s economic growth.
Mrs. Banda also commended the Zambian government for implementing various programs and policies that have generally promoted economic development. She said initiatives such as the Citizen Economic Empowerment Fund which were development focused whose end result was capacity building, ownership and empowerment.
Black Jack
She said Sylva Food Solutions Inc and its sister companies had grown to their current prominence locally and abroad owing to successive government economic policies.
Ambassador Siwela, commenting on the discussion later observed that women were an emerging economic force that policy makers could no longer afford to ignore. She added that businesses owned by women in Africa were rapidly growing and needed support from all.
She intimated that women in the developing world were also faced with challenges such as the need for more training and technical assistance on business management issues, better and more equitable access of start-up capital, needs such as how to identify markets for their products and the promotion of sisterhood where women gather to learn from one another.

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