Timeline

Over 60 Years of Promoting Economic, Social and Ecological Development
Anne-Marie Im Hof-Piguet

1959

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.

Prime minister Nehru at the opening of the Indo-Swiss Training Centers.

1962

In Chandigarh, India, the first vocational school in precision engineering is opened.

Swiss cattle "Braunvieh" for Africa

1963

An agricultural training school is opened in Sékou (Dahomey, today Benin), as the foundation’s second project.

Opening of training facility in Gabès

1965

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."

Robert Jenny

1971

Robert Jenny takes over management of the foundation, and the name is changed to Swisscontact.

Training facility in Bandung

1974

The first project in Indonesia – a mechanics’ training school in Bandung – is launched; Indonesia would later become a key partner country.

Dr. Max Gloor

1978

Dr. Max Gloor becomes President after Giuseppe Bertola.

Swiss master cheese maker in Peru

1979

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

1979

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.

Apprentices handling the bench vice in PMS Politeknik Mekanik Swiss in Indonesia.

1980

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.

Entrepreneur in Costa Rica

1981

The first business development project starts up in Costa Rica.

Dr. Thomas Bechtler

1987

Dr. Thomas Bechtler becomes President of Swisscontact.

Mechanic in Costa Rica

1993

The first environmental project is launched in Costa Rica.


In Albania, Swisscontact makes its first foray into post-communist Eastern Europe.

Training centre for welding in Vietnam

1994

Our training project in Vietnam is the first to focus on brief courses.

Dr. Urs Egger

1995

The first pure microfinance project is launched in Ecuador.


Dr. Urs Egger replaces Robert Jenny as Executive Director.

Successful entrepreneur in Ecuador

1996

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.

Vocational education in Mali

1998

The first SDC tenders won by Swisscontact: skills development in Mali and financial services in Ecuador.

Dr. Hanspeter Ming

1999

Dr. Hanspeter Ming becomes President.

Vehicle inspection in Bolivia

2000

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.

Community savings and lending groups in Kenya

2003

In East Africa, Swisscontact begins supporting commercial banks in their efforts to introduce and develop financial services.

 

Peter Grüschow

2005

In Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Swisscontact helps in economic reconstruction after the Boxing Day tsunami. 


Peter Grüschow becomes President. Swisscontact Germany is founded.

Market development in Bangladesh

2008

Swisscontact North America is founded in the USA for fundraising and acquisition.

Samuel Bon

2011

Samuel Bon becomes CEO.

Heinrich M. Lanz

2012

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.

Tailor in Kakuma

2013

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".

Sustainable construction in Peru

2016

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.

Sustainable fish farming in Bangladesh

2017

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 

2017

Swisscontact begins implementing the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO). The project work is implemented simultaneously in several countries.

Vocational education and training in Mali

2018

After 12 years the major programme for vocational training promotion ends successfully.
More than 60 000 persons completed a vocational training.

Swisscontact and The Springfield Centre

2019

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.

Educational offensive in Niger

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.