As a small but globally connected country, it is in Switzerland’s interest to foster fair business practices, social stability, and prosperity in developing countries and emerging economies. In their review of 2018, Heinrich M. Lanz, President, and Samuel Bon, CEO and Executive Director, explain what Swisscontact contributes toward this goal.
Entrepreneurs define the economy: they create jobs and add value, thereby contributing to the development of their countries. Harnessing the power of entrepreneurship for international development cooperation is a core topic for Swisscontact.
In 2018, Swisscontact dedicated its annual event to this topic. A young female entrepreneur from Bosnia and another young man from Uganda provided insights into their companies. She operates an online platform linking innovative companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina with each other, while in Uganda, he established a successful fish farm with 13 friends, creating new business opportunities for himself. Although their business sectors and baseline situations differed vastly, they share an entrepreneurial spirit.
After twelve years, Swisscontact successfully completed the Programme d’Appui à la Formation Professionelle (PAFP) in Mali for the promotion of vocational education. Under this project, more than 60,000 people completed vocational education. The programme was financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Royal Embassy of Denmark.
In Mali, the central government is transferring the responsibility to formulate regional development strategies to the regions and PAFP was oriented to this process. Thus, each region was able to decide for itself which sectors promise high value and PAFP focused on promoting vocational education according to this process. Vocational training defined in each region was confirmed as an effective tool to fight unemployment.
In April 2018, the Swiss Ethics Award was won by the FINCA sustainable cocoa production project, which Swisscontact is implementing together with Chocolats Halba and Coop, a Swiss supermarket company, in Ecuador. With the Swiss Ethics Award, projects are celebrated that set new ethical standards in business.
FINCA follows economic, environmental, and social objectives: increasing the standard of living for cocoa farmers, improving biodiversity through sustainable forestry development, and supporting new generations of farmers. The goal of the project is to help young cocoa farmers organically plant the high-value Cacao Nacional Arriba fine variety in sufficient volumes. The chocolate processed from the cocoa beans of supported farmers is available at Swiss Coop stores.
In his year as President of the Swiss Confederation, Federal Council member Alain Berset, visited the skills development project in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, implemented by Swisscontact on behalf of SDC.
The refugees as well as the local population in the Kakuma region can take courses and acquire social and technical skills in various professional fields, in addition to urgently needed life skills. The President of the Swiss Confederation was impressed by how refugees apply their newly acquired skills to earn a living.
The approach of the “Skills 4 Life” project focuses on local market opportunities. After the training, participants can, for example, tailor clothes, repair mobile telephones, computers, motor vehicles, or manufacture tools, and in so doing they can generate direct income for themselves.
The large-scale PRISMA project in Indonesia concluded its first phase in 2018. Swisscontact is providing technical support to this project, sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented by Palladium.
During its initial phase, the project supported rural development in 18 agricultural sectors, ranging from maize to coffee and pig farming. In the past four years, 320,000 households saw improvements in their living standards after adapting their farming techniques or gaining improved access to high-value means of production. Their incomes rose by 157 million Australian dollars, equal to about 112 million Swiss francs.
In PRISMA’s second phase, Swisscontact is contributing its expertise and strength in implementation. The team will continue applying the market development approach so that 700,000 smallholder farmer households can improve their production.
In 2018 Swisscontact began setting up and guiding Tunisia’s first regional Destination Management Organisation (DMO). Previously, there was just one central destination marketing policy for all Tunisia.
The objective of this DMO for the mountainous Jebel Dahar region is the development of alternative tourism, thereby creating new economic opportunities for its inhabitants.
For this project, Swisscontact has been working closely with the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism. The project is financed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
To preserve the region’s authenticity, the project keeps in mind the environmental and social impact of tourism. The DMO for Jebel Dahar will serve as a national model for tourism diversification in other peripheral Tunisian regions.
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