«Katalyst», Swisscontact’s pioneer project for market development in Bangladesh, is coming to an end after 17 years. Katalyst was financed by an international donor consortium and reached 4.7 million farmers and SMEs over its entire duration, integrating them more closely into market systems. Swisscontact worked in 20 sectors along rural value chains and implemented more than 300 initiatives.
In Bangladesh, Swisscontact applied the “Inclusive Markets” approach, the objective of which is to integrate small-scale producers into the economy; larger firms expanded their portfolio of products, services, and information to SMEs and farmers. As a result, these SMEs improved production and gained access to new markets. A total of US$690 million in additional income was generated through this approach.
Since April 2017, Swisscontact has been managing SECO’s «Swiss Import Promotion Programme SIPPO», in collaboration with BHP Brugger and Partners Ltd. and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation. A highlight of the first project year was the Import Promotion Forum, which took place in Basel under the patronage of the “Handel Schweiz” Swiss Trade Association.
Eighty participants from the private and public sectors discussed opportunities and challenges of public trade promotion. State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch praised SIPPO as the flagship of SECO’s economic development cooperation.
SIPPO supports export promotion boards and trade associations in 11 partner countries in their efforts to provide export services to companies, preparing them for clients’ high standards in important target markets in Europe and worldwide. With this approach, the programme is creating stable long-term export structures in partner countries.
Swisscontact expanded its portfolio in Central America. Countries in Central America are among the hardest hit by climate change, with rural populations who feel these effects most acutely.
Given that SMEs and smallholder farmers form the backbone of the regional economy, our new projects will support smallholder farmers in their efforts to adapt to changing climatic conditions and improve their competitiveness in international markets. Better local income generation also helps to stem outward migration.
Our four projects in Honduras and Nicaragua will be financed through Canada’s Department of Global Affairs (Global Affairs Canada), the World Bank, European Union, and SDC.
Swisscontact promotes sustainable tourism in developing countries in order to create productive jobs and income opportunities for broader segments of the population.
To this end, Swisscontact participated in activities for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism proclaimed by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for 2017. Swisscontact experts participated in various sustainable tourism events, most notably the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne.
Internally, sustainable tourism was also an important topic; Swisscontact developed tourism development guidelines for sustainable economic growth. In accordance with these fundamental principles, Swisscontact will only promote a tourism destination if it can demonstrate long-term positive impact on the local population and environment, and in particular, economic viability.
Southern cities will continue to see substantial population growth in the coming years. This growth brings numerous problems, which due to the lack of basic infrastructure, include unemployment, poor living conditions and low productivity.
Swisscontact is committed to developing sustainable cities and is helping local municipal administrations to tackle this immense challenge.
In 2017, Swisscontact concluded a pioneer project in Bolivia for SDC, where we supported numerous Bolivian cities to reduce air pollution. Based on various recommendations for urban planning made by Swisscontact experts, the city government has, among other things, built a cable car between La Paz and El Alto. These and other initiatives reduced CO2 emissions by 370,000 tonnes over the last 14 years.
Swisscontact was awarded a direct mandate from USAID in Cambodia. Together with UBERIS Capital, an impact investor working in Southeast Asia, Swisscontact will support innovative small and medium agribusinesses.
Under the project, UBERIS Capital is setting up a special agribusiness investment fund, while Swisscontact is advising businesses, especially in business management, to ensure the investments are used sustainably. In a second programme component, Swisscontact is helping businesses with growth potential to become investment-ready.
The pilot project is creating a platform able to accept funds from other bilateral donors and private funders. Based on our existing expertise in enterprise development, Swisscontact can engage in the area of impact investing through this project.
schafft eine Plattform, welche auch Mittel weiterer bilateraler Geber und Stiftungen aufnehmen kann. Basierend auf ihrer bestehenden Expertise in Unternehmensentwicklung kann Swisscontact sich durch dieses Projekt im Bereich Impact Investing engagieren.
In 2017, the SEC carried out a total of 153 assignments in 19 countries. Our experts are retired specialists who provide their knowledge and time free-of-charge during short-term consultancies.
They provide technical and practical support directly to companies in developing countries and Eastern Europe.
The SEC countries of particular focus in 2017 were Benin, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cambodia, Kosovo, Nepal, Nicaragua, Peru, and Uganda. In these countries, SEC assignments were co-financed with money from project funding. In all other countries, it was the contracting companies who financed the assignments. Most assignments were in the food products, tourism and vocational education sectors.
The launch of the SEC’s own website was a major development for the programme.
SIPPO supports select export promotion organisations and business support organisations (BSOs) in 11 partner countries, so that they can offer targeted commercial services for export-viable companies.
In April, Swisscontact signed the contract and officially took on the mandate for implementing SECO’s longstanding programme, in collaboration with BHP Brugger and Partners Ltd. and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.
The goal of SIPPO is to strengthen export support structures in partner countries in order to increase their exports in targeted sectors. With Swisscontact’s new approach, SIPPO is supporting BSOs in their efforts to provide professional export services in the future, without support from Switzerland. The shift from direct support of SMEs to collaboration on an association level required much buy-in and engagement with all SIPPO stakeholders.
2017 was defined by large-scale renovation. Our six-member team in Berne put in place structures to ensure its successful implementation: 11 country offices with 18 local employees were newly opened, while 11 country websites were launched. 55 BSOs underwent assessment, through which work plans were developed for the following year. Furthermore, plans for a global learning platform and CRM system took shape. With the very first “Import Promotion Forum”, SIPPO enhanced its visibility in Switzerland.
The second project year proved to be dynamic and eventful in all six countries (Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Peru, and Vietnam). Local entrepreneurship “ecosystems” were strengthened.
Cooperation among various start-up accelerators is a promising indicator of their increasing level of professionality. Examples include the Peruvian Association of Angel Capital (PECAP) and Vietnam Mentor Initiative (VMI), as well as other cross-country cooperation initiatives in the Balkans that the Swiss EP has supported.
The SECO-financed Swiss EP organised two events in Switzerland. The "Peer Exchange Meetup" convened start-up managers from all six countries to exchange success models. The "Women Entrepreneurs Week" was conceived especially for up-and-coming women founders, mentors and investors, with the objective of bringing female entrepreneurs a step further in their business development. Swiss start-up experts supported both events. The "Entrepreneurs in Residence Initiative" is a successful innovation in the Balkans; experienced experts work closely with start-ups for three months to improve their goods or services and strengthen the local start-up ecosystem. The initiative will now be replicated in Peru and Vietnam.
In 2017, the Donor Committee for dual Vocational Education and Training (DC dVET) focused on enhancing its members’ visibility and activities in partner countries.
To this end, regional workshops were held in Albania and Burkina Faso. The workshops offered participants (including member representatives and their projects) a platform on which to deepen mutual understanding of dual vocational education in international development cooperation, exchange experience and ideas, identify synergy, and agree on closer collaboration.
In order to strengthen thematic principles, in 2017, the Donor Committee – together with Prof. Dr. Dieter Euler from University of St.Gallen – developed a work tool for involving the private sector more closely in the vocational education system.
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