Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited
At A Glance
|Where:||Lusaka, Zambia (with collaborating partners in other regional locations)|
|What:||Catering, restaurant, processed foods, and training|
|Founders:||Sylvia C. and Hector Banda|
|Year Founded:||founded in 1986, incorporated in 1991|
|Number of employees:||73 (2008)|
|Total revenue:||ZMK 20,511,432.52 Zambian kwachas (ZMK) /
“In other countries, almost everywhere you go, people promote their local foods,” complains Sylvia Banda, “but not so much in Zambia.” Her business, Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited, aims to fill this niche for visitors and locals alike. Besides catering, she also founded three profitable subsidiaries that specialize in Zambian cuisine: Sylva Professional Catering College; Sylva Foods Guest House, a restaurant and soon a hotel; and Sylva Food Solutions, a food processing business for domestic and export markets that also provides training to farmers and has recently ventured into manufacturing low-tech food processing equipment.
“Sylva Catering,” she says, “is a leader in the traditional food business circles. We always strive to be ahead of our competitors.” But Sylvia is more than an entrepreneur. She is also the country’s most prominent spokesperson and impresario for local food. She rubs elbows with presidents and first ladies from Zambia and the wider region. She and her husband have authored a popular cookbook with recipes from regions across the country. She purchases her raw materials from small-scale farmers throughout the country, and has helped to mobilize assistance and training for them from development organizations like International Development Enterprise (IDE) Zambia. And through her college she prepares the next generation of food service professionals according to her core values: quality, ethical behavior, professionalism, innovation, service orientation, and personal drive.
While Sylvia continues to struggle with many challenges typical of small and mid-scale businesses, she has distinguished herself through excellent niche identification. Plus, she sees farmer and employee training as “economic emancipation.”