Timeline

Over 60 Years of Promoting Economic, Social and Ecological Development
1959
Anne-Marie Im Hof-Piguet
Anne-Marie Im Hof-Piguet, one of the founders of the foundation and, together with the first president, a successful fundraiser.

The “Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation” is founded. Its first President is Dr. Hans Schindler and the first Executive Director is Dr. Fritz Real.
1962
Prime minister Nehru at the opening of the Indo-Swiss Training Centers.
In Chandigarh, India, the first vocational school in precision engineering is opened.
1963
Swiss cattle "Braunvieh" for Africa
An agricultural training school is opened in Sékou (Dahomey, today Benin), as the foundation’s second project.
1965
Opening of training facility in Gabès
The first federal contract project in Gabès, Tunisia. The Governor of Gabès says 1971 to a Swisscontact representative:
"If this training centre did not exist, it would have to be created, as it shows us the real problems of our region, such as the lack of jobs. We in the developing countries must be put under pressure to achieve something."
1971
Robert Jenny
Robert Jenny takes over management of the foundation, and the name is changed to Swisscontact.
1974
Training facility in Bandung
The first project in Indonesia – a mechanics’ training school in Bandung – is launched; Indonesia would later become a key partner country.
1978
Dr. Max Gloor
Dr. Max Gloor becomes President after Giuseppe Bertola.
1979
Swiss master cheese maker in Peru
The Swisscontact Senior Expert Corps is founded. The experts support and advise small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries and Eastern Europe on a voluntary basis.
Peruvian scholarship holders in Switzerland
Swisscontact yields great success after 20 years: 10 completed and eight ongoing projects; 3,500 trainee graduates and 2,000 in training; 26 million CHF donated by businesses; 14 million CHF in Swiss Federal grants; and 1 million CHF in community donations.
1980
Apprentices handling the bench vice in PMS Politeknik Mekanik Swiss in Indonesia.
In Indonesia, a large project financed by the government is launched – the development of six technical schools for 5,000 students, as well as a teacher-training center.
1981
Entrepreneur in Costa Rica
The first business development project starts up in Costa Rica.
1987
Dr. Thomas Bechtler
Dr. Thomas Bechtler becomes President of Swisscontact.
1993
Mechanic in Costa Rica
The first environmental project is launched in Costa Rica.
In Albania, Swisscontact makes its first foray into post-communist Eastern Europe.
1994
Training centre for welding in Vietnam
Our training project in Vietnam is the first to focus on brief courses.
1995
Dr. Urs Egger
Dr. Urs Egger replaces Robert Jenny as Executive Director.
The first pure microfinance project is launched in Ecuador.
1996
Successful entrepreneur in Ecuador
A new approach to SME development is tested in Peru and Ecuador and involves building for-profit business advisory centres. The Swiss federal government tenders out new contracts.
1998
Vocational education in Mali
The first SDC tenders won by Swisscontact: skills development in Mali and financial services in Ecuador.
1999
Dr. Hanspeter Ming
Dr. Hanspeter Ming becomes President.
2000
Vehicle inspection in Bolivia
Clean air projects – which introduced lead-free petrol in the entire region – are closed out in Central America. Swisscontact wins global project financing and grows rapidly.
2003
Community savings and lending groups in Kenya
In East Africa, Swisscontact begins supporting commercial banks in their efforts to introduce and develop financial services.
2005
In Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Swisscontact helps in economic reconstruction after the Boxing Day tsunami.
Peter Grüschow
Peter Grüschow becomes President. Swisscontact Germany is founded.
2008
Market development in Bangladesh
Swisscontact North America is founded in the USA for fundraising and acquisition.
2011
Samuel Bon
Samuel Bon becomes CEO.
2012
Heinrich M. Lanz
Heinrich M. Lanz becomes President.
As part of the Momentum for Change initiative, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) names the EELA energy efficiency programme as a reference project.
2013
Tailor in Kakuma
In Kakuma, Kenya, work starts on developing basic qualifications for youth in and around Africa’s largest refugee camp. Swisscontact Germany is sold to employees as part of a management buyout and becomes "Fair Ventures".
2016
Sustainable construction in Peru
Swisscontact has been working in Peru since 1966. Peru is the first country in which Swisscontact has been implementing development projects continuously for 50 years.
2017
Sustainable fish farming in Bangladesh
Swisscontact’s pioneering market development work in Bangladesh approaches its end after 17 years. Over the entire course of the Katalyst project, Swisscontact was able to assist a total 4.7 million smallholder farm businesses and SMEs, integrating them more closely into the market.
Enterprise promotion
Swisscontact begins implementing the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO). The project work is implemented simultaneously in several countries.
2018
Vocational education and training in Mali
After 12 years the major programme for vocational training promotion ends successfully. More than 60 000 persons completed a vocational training.
2019
Swisscontact and The Springfield Centre
The Springfield Centre for Business in Development and Swisscontact join forces. The UK-based consulting firm is a global leader in inclusive market systems and development.
60 years of Swisscontact
In 2019, Swisscontact celebrates its 60th anniversary. 120 projects in 38 countries and seven regions with 1,100 employees and 100 million CHF turnover.

In terms of our goals, nothing has changed for Swisscontact since being founded in 1959: we will continue creating opportunities for economically and socially disadvantaged people to improve their lives on their own initiative.

The archive photos on this website were kindly provided by the Archives of Contemporary History.