Swisscontact: responsibility as a collective task

In 2018 Swisscontact facilitated access for 1.2 million farmers and SMEs to better products and services. Established in 1959, the Foundation currently implements 120 development projects in 36 countries, helping people to improve their living conditions on their own initiative. Swisscontact looks back at a successful 2018 in the Annual Report.
With its development projects, last year Swisscontact contributed significantly to economic and social development in its partner countries. 1.2 million farmers and SMEs gained access to better products and services. More than 100,000 people – nearly half who are women – completed training programmes in skills development, entrepreneurship, or labour market integration. Through the projects implemented by Swisscontact, 2.40 Swiss francs in additional income were generated for every 1 franc invested. Through the promotion of ethical business, social stability, and prosperity in developing countries and emerging economies, Switzerland also benefits. Not least because Swiss businesses have close relations with these countries.  

Large projects rooted locally

During the reporting year, Swisscontact successfully closed out various projects and handed these over to local partners. In particular, the Indonesian WISATA project and Programme d’Appui à la Formation Professionnelle (PAFP) in Mali are worthy of mention. The latter was implemented under harsh conditions due to the armed conflict in the country’s north and political instability. Despite this, the project team was able to secure a professional future for 60,000 people through vocational training.
The pioneering WISATA project supported sustainable tourism development in four regions of Indonesia. Swisscontact generated new productive jobs and income opportunities for broad swaths of the population. During the project implementation period lasting from 2009 to 2018, tourist expenditures in these four destinations increased by nearly 60%. Meanwhile, Swisscontact is now implementing the experience gained in Indonesia in tourism projects across four continents. 

Reforming Albania’s vocational education system

Swisscontact highlighted two projects as examples in the Annual Report. On behalf of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) Swisscontact is helping young people in Albania to gain real opportunities in their home country through better vocational education. In Colombia on behalf of SECO, Swisscontact is implementing the Colombia+Competitiva project and is helping beneficiaries overcome barriers to better competitiveness.  

Anniversary symbolized by change

On occasion of Swisscontact’s 60th anniversary, more than 200 guests came to the Lake Side Conference Centre in Zurich on May 16, 2019. Heinrich M. Lanz, President of the Board of Trustees, looked back proudly on 60 years of the Foundation’s history, declaring that “Despite great progress there remains much to be done. For people to develop economically and climb out of poverty on their own strengths, Swisscontact must keep challenging itself and continue developing.” Swisscontact CEO Samuel Bon reminded guests that it is important to communicate the impact of our development projects more clearly. He observes a disagreement in discussions about what to expect from international development cooperation: “Development cooperation is not occurring in a vacuum and projects do not follow straight paths and simple cause-and-effect relationships. The influences and circumstances under which we are working are complex, therefore we need to engage in an honest and open dialogue about expectations and limits.”