Swisscontact supports gender equity in its projects and internally as an employer, and strives for the social inclusion of all people.
An example is provided by a vocational education project in Bolivia, financed by SDC and implemented by Swisscontact. Its purpose is to promote economic and social equality. Poor and vulnerable population groups gain access to vocational training and can thereby enhance their employability. Coordinating with the Bolivian Ministry of Education, the project implements initiatives to strengthen public healthcare education centres, among other things. These centres target people with disabilities and provide them with vocational training. The approaches applied at these centres will serve as a national point of reference for vocational education policy.
In 2020, professional profiles and curricula were drafted, and equipment was procured for various professional areas. COVID-19 safety guidelines were also drafted. On the whole, the project promotes economic resilience and independence for people with disabilities, thereby facilitating their inclusion in society and their ability to provide a stable living for themselves.
Swisscontact promotes financial skills and facilitates access to affordable and sustainable financial services. These provide opportunities for entrepreneurially-minded people to actively participate in economic life.
An example is the “Sarathi” project in Bangladesh. "Sarathi" works with four commercial banks and 49 textile factories to facilitate access to the formal banking system for their labourers. Thanks to "Sarathi", 73,000 workers received their salary payments directly to individual bank accounts instead of in cash, for the very first time. This increases the safety of their savings, while the factories themselves improved in terms of productivity as their employees no longer had to stand in long queues to wait for their salaries.
The project team noticed a desirable change in savings mentality, and this could be attributed to the possession of a bank account: at the start of the project, most workers had zero savings at the end of the month. By 2020, their average end-of-month savings had reached US$30 (for an average monthly salary of US$112). This implies increased trust in banks and contributes to workers’ financial resilience.
"Sarathi" is financed by the MetLife Foundation, SDC and private donations.
In its project activities, Swisscontact is careful not to harm the environment. Ideally, it tries to improve environmental conditions.
For fish farmers in Benin’s Toho lagoon, earning a decent living is a difficult endeavour. Production is low and they must compete with cheap foreign fish imports. The objective of the “Béninclusif” project is to increase fish farmers’ productivity and incomes. However, the Toho lagoon is a fragile ecosystem and is under increasing pressure from various human activities. For this reason, the support provided to fish production must also mitigate negative environmental impacts.
The project team has identified water pollution from home-made, low-quality fish feed as having a critical impact on the environment. Another cause is inappropriate farming techniques and air pollution from primitive fish smoking units. Based on these findings, fish farmers have designed interventions together with the project team that combine economic and environmental solutions, for example, the introduction of affordable, high-quality fish feed that is far less damaging to the environment. The project is financed through private donations and SDC.
Swisscontact promotes transparent, responsible, participatory, effective, and just decision-making processes. Through its projects, Swisscontact has strengthened government institutions on the national, regional, and local levels. It helps formulate policies, implement reforms, and improve the regulatory landscape. The purpose is to promote economic growth, human development, and social cohesion.
The “Colombia+Competitiva” project, financed by SECO, is a perfect example of this. The project supports national and regional actors in their efforts to improve the competitiveness of sectors harbouring the potential to create jobs and generate development. From the get-go, the project facilitated collaboration between state authorities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the private sector.
Colombia’s National System of Competitiveness (SNC) provided the framework for this. Through support provided during the first programme phase, which concluded in 2020, presiding ministries learned how to identify strategic needs and implement solutions in collaboration with partner entities. This helped the government, also during the COVID-19 pandemic, in its efforts to prevent a “silo” mentality and overcome the narrow interests of individual ministries.