Poverty reduction through SME-Promotion (Mercados Rurales)

In Bolivia, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute approximately 35% to gross domestic product. Compared with other countries, this proportion is rather small, although they employ around 93% of the workforce. According to estimates, in the past 15 years, 8 out of 10 new jobs in Bolivia have been created by SMEs. It is primarily people from lower social classes and rural areas that have benefited from this.

The Project

The project promotes practically-orientated training and consulting services in service centres which offer courses, workshops and advice, primarily covering legal and business management matters.  Forums (trade fairs, meetings, etc.) help to encourage contact with other economic stakeholders, while companies marketing SME products are specifically supported. An improved network of contacts also makes access easier to invitations to tender for public contracts and SMEs are supported with advice about relevant tender procedures.

Thanks to the development and expansion of an officially recognised certification system for products and services, quality is improved, processes are optimised and market opportunities are increased as a result.

All measures are aimed at actual requirements, take into consideration distinctive regional features and, in harmony with government initiatives, result in stimulation of the economy and improvement of general conditions for SMEs.


Achievements in 2014

  • A network of public and private partners has been established to implement the project, made up of more than 40 members.
  • In-depth studies have been carried out of the priority chains and business environment, which have shown us the underlying causes of the problems encountered and thus enabled us to design innovative and sustainable interventions.
  • The project has been brought into line with current public policies and working groups have been formed between the project and the public bodies involved.
  • As far as technical assistance for small rural producers is concerned, pilot schemes have been set up to create plant nurseries with help from Fundación Valles.
  • Help has been provided for the design and implementation of a type of specialised training (skills development) for promoters, technicians and producers by the Universidad Mayor de San Simón de Bolivia, initially specialising in fruit and vegetables.
  • Training has been provided to the joint facilitators of the project (the Valles, PROINPA, FAUTAPO and RIMISP foundations) concentrating on the development of inclusive markets for rural value chains.

Project countries

  • Bolivia

Project duration

2014 - 2017


  • SDC

Working area


Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
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CH-8005 Zurich

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