In our last post, we introduced why 2Seeds exists and how our values inspire the two seeds of our mission: helping rural Tanzanian families achieve their productive potential to grow more food and generate more income from what they produce, and helping young people achieve their potential as values-driven, results-oriented leaders.
We concluded by claiming that the primary means to achieve both these missions is the same: Human Capital Development.
So, what do we mean by “Human Capital Development?”
Let’s start by defining our key term: Human Capital is the combination of knowledge, skills, experiences, values, and relationships that we use to be productive and create wellbeing for ourselves and for our communities. An easy way to think about it is as our “competencies and connections.” Our competencies comprise our abilities (inherent and learned), and our connections determine our access to support now and to new opportunities in the future.
In every aspect of our lives, being productive requires constantly solving problems and seizing opportunities. To be productive, we must critically analyze information and generate creative ideas. We musts take risks, assess results, and re-iterate towards success.
Solving problems and generating opportunities creatively are the critical skills for our Tanzanian partners who wish to create better lives for their families. Poor people, particularly those in rural areas, face the most urgent problems in their daily lives—how to feed their families, how to afford education and medicine—and have few available material resources with which to try to solve them. They have to take big risks in order to be productive—if the rains don’t come they lose their food, their income, their time, and their strength—but they have little or no margin for error in that productivity.
This reality of poverty—big problems, few resources, high inherent risks, no margin for error—magnifies the value of human capital. In this environment, a farmer’s ability to access and utilize information, ideas, and resources may determine how nourished, healthy, and educated her children are. To help a farmer improve her productivity in ways that she herself can sustain, we must help build her human capital. We can connect her with new sources of knowledge and support; train her in the skills she needs to produce more and better quality goods; create opportunities for her to test and refine her skills through experience.
With improved competencies and connections, our farmer is able to grow more food now and sell what she grows for greater profit. She can improve her family’s food and income security in the present, and build her capacity to become increasingly productive in the future. She can sustain her own increased productivity, and open up new positive choices for her family.
This is human capital development, and it is an inherently collaborative process. We cannot build our own competencies and connections in isolation. In our work, human capital development is a reciprocal process: our Project Coordinators work to create opportunities for our Tanzanian partners to build their human capital. In doing so, they build their own competencies and connections. They form transformative relationships with their partners and their peers, they learn to manage projects, work inter-culturally, and gain deep experience solving tough problems each and every day.
Through their work together, our Project Coordinators and our Tanzanian partners catalyze each other’s human capital development. Our partners translate this growth into increasing productivity for their families and communities; our Project Coordinators carry this growth forward as empathetic, results-driven leaders into the careers and communities that await them after 2Seeds.
But how does Human Capital Development actually happen within the 2Seeds Network? We’ll discuss this question in our next post, coming soon.