While each 2Seeds project is unique and based on the needs and resources of a particular community, we utilize Network-Wide Initiatives (NWI) to address challenges and opportunities common throughout our network of projects. These are designed to create opportunities for leadership and capacity building across the network, as well as to tackle challenges posed by the natural environment. The initiatives create space for Partners and projects to collaborate, achieving more together than they would be able to achieve individually.
In order for our Partners to confidently perform important business group roles such as record-keeping, sales coordination, and analysis of profit trends, we utilize the Capacity Building NWI to develop their technical and interpersonal skills and competencies. This initiative empowers Partners to think critically about group operations and strategy, creating opportunities for self-analysis and long-term planning and reinforcing project self-sustainability and growth.
We facilitate this initiative through periodic workshops, bringing together treasurers, sales coordinators, and secretaries from each project site’s business group. In the summits, Partners develop computational, organizational, and other business skills and knowledge to bring back to their project sites for group and business management.
The Leadership Network-Wide Initiative fosters collaboration and learning opportunities for project leaders such as group chairmen, treasurers, or sales coordinators. This initiative develops Partners into effective community leaders and allows Partners from various projects to collaborate and support each other towards the common goals of food and income security in their communities.
We host periodic summits with these Partners, developing their confidence and capacity as leaders through activities promoting effective public speaking and people management techniques. Our focus is on distributed leadership and growth of each individual, in opposition to hierarchical structures.
Africa is suffering from deforestation at an alarming rate. In our project sites, deforestation has damaged acres of production, caused severe landslides and flooding, and destroyed homes. Given the availability and affordability of firewood in rural villages, where income levels are typically low, it’s difficult to find feasible alternative cooking methods. As soil quality and water availability are directly linked to tree populations, decreasing the rate of deforestation and actively promoting reforestation practices are integral to supporting agricultural yields and overall quality of life.
This initiative promotes the planting of indigenous trees in order to actively care for the soil upon which livelihoods depend, as well as the planting of nut and fruit trees that provide an economic benefit to our Partners in the long-term. Additionally, we train our Partners to use firewood more efficiently through alternative cooking techniques, such as mud stoves.
All of our project sites face water challenges: there isn’t enough water during the dry seasons or there’s too much during the rainy season.
We work with our Partners to develop water solutions that fit the needs and resources of each community. These include rainwater harvesting, efficient irrigation techniques, flood prevention measures and floodwater harvesting. Our goal is to spread knowledge, technical skills, resources and expertise throughout the network to improve quality of life through consistent water supply and effective water management.
Studies show that women use the majority of their income for household—not personal—expenses, encouraging us to develop our female Partners’ entrepreneurial and business-management skills. By supporting them, we support their whole families. The 2Seeds Women’s Group is comprised of 16 women, two women from each of our partner communities.
The group has three main focuses: (1) provide seed financing, training, and support for members’ business ideas; (2) build an education fund for school fees of daughters of group members to prepare the next generation of women to excel as leaders; and (3) discuss female-related health issues such as nutrition, sexual education, and family planning. The group meets every two months to share their business ideas and receive feedback, discuss health-related topics, and build camaraderie across the network of projects. Our ultimate goal is to equip women with the confidence, capacity, and opportunities to earn higher incomes and convert that income into a better life for their families.
Most rural Tanzanians’ income depends on the ability to consistently reach markets. Unfortunately, poor roads, high transportation costs, and a lack of access to price information hinders many of our Partners from maximizing their revenue. Recognizing this common challenge among 2Seeds projects, we seek to provide better market opportunities for our Partners through network-wide sales. These organized sales enable Partners across several projects to market their products collectively under the 2Seeds brand, and to provide consistent production to contractual buyers.
This initiative fosters collaboration in which transportation costs can be shared, consistent supply to contractual buyers can be achieved, and high-value markets become a viable option for our Partners.
Lack of education and low income levels often force our Partners to focus on short-term needs, stifling their ability to think long-term and improve their overall quality of life. Trainings offered by local government extension offices center on a specific crop or production technique, perhaps improving yields but failing to promote long-term business growth and change. Seeing these gaps in knowledge, we created the 2Seeds Business Curriculum, which expands critical-thinking and decision-making capabilities by building skills that are essential to effective business management.
The curriculum is composed of 18 two-hour lessons that cover topics related to financial management and entrepreneurship. The curriculum was designed for rural smallholder farmers, suiting Partners without significant schooling, who cannot read or write, and who have no formal business experience. It teaches essential business concepts by boiling them down to applicable topics that are taught using everyday examples and interactive methods.