Albania and Kosovo remain two of the poorest countries in Europe. The opportunities for young people to find paid work are very limited. By training coaches who implement the innovative coaching cycle methodology developed in collaboration with the University of Lucerne, Swisscontact has supported the integration of young people with marginalised backgrounds into the labour market. They learn hard and soft skills through theoretical and practical processes, internships, entrepreneurship coaching, personal advice and exchange and activities in groups. An additional project component facilitated access to financial services and products for these youths.
The Action Research on Energy Efficiency Project assessed opportunities for energy efficiency projects with high impact and benefit outreach in two sectors. In the rice mill sector, the project assessed the potential for facilitating market uptake of an improved rice parboiling system presenting a fuel-efficient, less pollutant and safer alternative to the traditional systems used in rice mills across the country. In the solar lead acid battery recycling sector, the action research explored the feasibility of strengthening the business case of formal recycling actors to achieve economic competitiveness with informal battery recycling.
Bangladesh's ready-made garments sector contributes 11.2% to the gross domestic product of the country and employs over four million workers. It is estimated that 75% of the factories still pay their workers in cash placing most ready-made garments workers outside the purview of formal financial services. Through wage digitisation and financial literacy training, the Sarathi Project brings ready-made garments workers, of which the majority are women, within the sphere of mainstream commercial banking and empowers them to access financial services and increase their financial resilience.
To improve the healthcare provision of the local population and at the same time address the problem of the high number of unemployed and underemployed youths in rural Bangladesh, Swisscontact strengthens and promotes the so-called community paramedic training programme. The project motivates young adults from rural areas to undergo this two-year training and become skilled primary health workers. As self-employed persons or employees at local clinics, they provide their services to the rural population. Moreover, the project invests in awareness raising activities to inform the local population on general health issues and promote the community paramedics and their high-quality services.
In recent years, the demand for agro-based and conventional jobs decreased in Bangladesh and industry and trade-based jobs increased. The Uttoron Project supports unemployed and underemployed youth to enter the world of work by providing training on trades which are currently in demand in the industry. Training participants also receive job placement support. An important objective is the establishment of a skills training centre that will run beyond the project duration.
"Shujola" is a Bengali word, meaning clean water source. Through the Shujola Project, Swisscontact provides ready-made garments workers - in their often unregulated residential communities - with access to safe water at low cost from water kiosks that are run by entrepreneurs. A water kiosk can be a water dispensary, a water ATM, a bottling plant, or a combination of several of these.
Because of a lack of capacity in the centres, auxiliary nurses often take over the role of nurses or midwives without having the necessary qualifications. For this reason, the project places special emphasis on the training of auxiliary staff. Before the training, only about 10% achieved the set minimum mark in an exam; after the training it was 85%. In other words, 75% of the professionals significantly increased their knowledge and thus most likely also increased the quality of care to their patients.
Through this project, Swisscontact's Development Programme contributed significantly to the introduction of dual vocational training in Benin. In the last two years of the project, it focused on the cooperation with public actors and professional associations. The project strengthened the vocational training system with dual apprenticeships and the further training of vocational trainers in the crafts sector. The project developed high-quality, officially recognised initial and continuing training.
The handicraft sector occupies an important place in the socio-economic activities of Benin. Many artisans have invested in aluminium joinery. Despite the many potentialities of this trade, various problems hinder its development, including the inadequacy of training of master craftsmen. It is necessary that these master craftsmen who accompany young people in training at their companies receive capacity building themselves. The project aimed to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of master craftsmen practicing the trade of aluminium joinery by increasing their income by at least 10% as consequence of the strengthening of their technical and organisational capacities.
For many years, Swisscontact assisted local authorities and small and medium enterprises in Bolivia in the market-oriented and efficient design of waste management. From 2017 to 2018, the Ecovecindarios Project focused on the recollection and recycling of electronic waste and used vegetable oil, as well as the management of wastewater from both public and private emitters. Swisscontact supported authorities and companies in organising the collection, recycling and disposal of special waste, and in jointly developing functioning business models.
Rapid urbanisation and economic growth in Bolivia are leading to an ever-increasing number of vehicles that generate waste. This is difficult to treat because of its complex and often toxic components. Today only a small proportion of these waste materials is reused or properly treated for its final disposal. The project supports green businesses to develop new business models to recycle and reuse waste from the transport sector. Furthermore, it creates awareness among vehicle owners, repair shops, importers and municipalities about the problems of inadequate management of hazardous waste.
Most of the people in the poor neighbourhoods of La Paz and El Alto lack access to safe drinking water. Swisscontact empowered the small family business Filtruma to produce and sell their ceramic filters that make contaminated water drinkable. Filtruma is supported to meet the quality standards and develop a low-cost product that is accessible to the poor households. In parallel, sensitisation campaigns inform the poor households about the risks of contaminated water and advise them on how to access and handle this low-cost ceramic filter.
Through this project, Swisscontact created employment and income opportunities for young adults and contributed to poverty reduction in seven rural communities of Burkina Faso. This was achieved by supporting young adults in setting up their own businesses through targeted training and by giving farmers access to technical training, which allowed them to increase their productivity and income. In addition, young adults gained access to financial services through the organisation of saving groups. Swisscontact built the capacity of the local authorities and other partners to gradually plan and implement the introduced services independently.
Through the development of dual training for low-skilled workers in the hospitality sector, the project improved the competitiveness of the tourism destinations Kampot and Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia. The courses were based on the needs of the sector and in line with both national and regional qualification frameworks. To ensure their buy-in and enable them to better train and coach their employees, the project built the technical and management skills of the owners and managers of the tourism enterprises.
According to estimates, roughly 10 million people across Colombia live in poorly built homes. Swisscontact has raised the level of performance of the informal construction market in Colombia by introducing technical solutions and promoting good construction practices. The Construya Project established a high quality and locally adapted training offer for construction workers and raised awareness among homeowners to ensure they demand higher quality construction practices for their homes.
To improve the living conditions of smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers in rural regions of Ecuador, Swisscontact promoted inclusive value chains through its Emprende Project. Coffee and cocoa producing families gained access to further training, where they learnt how to improve productivity and quality in coffee and cocoa production. Furthermore, the project strengthened smallholder farmer cooperatives to better market the products of their members, build sustainable customer relationships and improve their administrative and financial processes.
The Ecuadorean Arriba cocoa is increasingly recognised to be of highest quality. Ecuadorean producers have a unique opportunity to take advantage of its higher market value in global markets. Through the FINCA Project, Swisscontact supported cocoa farmers in cultivating this high-quality fine cocoa in sufficient quantities and organic quality. The project specifically focused on the approach of dynamic agroforestry.
More than 100 000 people return yearly from the US into the Northern Triangle. The project creates an assessment procedure and certification of professional skills acquired abroad by returning migrants in the construction and tourism sectors. This recognition of skills facilitates the productive reintegration of returning migrants into the labour market or the creation of their own business.
Small-scale beekeepers were supported through advanced training in good business practices, as well as technology and skills transfer, so that they can meet the requirements of honey production imposed by import standards. In addition, the project developed a technical support programme for manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and materials.
This initiative aims to create awareness and momentum for the need to enhance ecosystems when working on improving entrepreneurs' survival rate worldwide but particularly in developing and emerging markets. For this, Swisscontact supports players in the ecosystems with access to knowledge, approaches and resources that will strengthen the services they provide to start-ups. The initiative engages with similar minded partners and organisations in joint-initiatives to contribute to mutual learning and the transfer of best practices.
Disadvantaged young women and men from rural and suburban areas gained access to high-quality vocational training, as well as entrepreneurship training and coaching. By integrating successfully into the labour market, they were able increase their incomes and improve their own livelihoods.
Swisscontact's Senior Expert Contact (SEC) facilitates voluntary short-term consultancy assignments of retired Swiss experts in developing countries. These consultancy assignments provide tailor-made support opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs who need skills and advice to overcome a challenge within their company. The consulting services enable the companies and their employees to develop themselves further and improve their competitiveness.
Indigenous youth and women in Alta Verapaz are empowered through improved professional technical training and labour insertion, as well as sustainable entrepreneurship. An additional focus of the project is the empowerment of women in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, and care economy.
Within our action research implemented in Uganda and Guatemala, different tools have been tested and replicated. For example, a data collection tool for system mapping was developed and fully tested. Moreover, a data collection mechanism was developed with each actor collecting data of two additional actors. Entrepreneurs reviewed the data collection tool and provided feedback on critical aspects. The results of the pilot activities to test the applicability and relevance of Social Network Analysis to our work have been promising. One of the key learnings is that the Social Network Analysis - besides being an analytical tool to better understand ecosystems - is an excellent engagement tool.
Although there is a positive trend in access to financial products and services in Sub-Saharan Africa, many people are still excluded from the formal financial market system. The project pushed the «banking frontier» further down the poverty line and increased access to financial services for smallholder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda. Swisscontact implemented innovative financial products tailored to the needs of the disadvantaged population groups thereby improving their incomes and financial resilience. Additionally, the project built the skills of the financial services workforce to improve professionality and diversity within that sector.
The project focused on the tourism and agricultural sectors, with the aim of creating employment and income opportunities in Cambodia and Laos. In the tourism sector, Swisscontact introduced new models for location promotion that consider the social, ecological and economic needs of the local population. To increase productivity and the competitiveness of the agriculture sector, the project promoted existing and new technologies giving special emphasis on sustainable agricultural production methods, such as no-till farming.
Through this project, young, marginalised Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian women and men gain access to a guided six-month coaching cycle that teaches them hard and soft skills which enhance their chances of integrating into the labour market. The coaching cycle methodology was developed by Swisscontact in collaboration with the University of Lucerne and has been successfully implemented in different countries. Swisscontact adapted the methodology to the Lebanese labour market and trains local partner organisations to independently manage the implementation of the coaching cycle.
One of Nepal's biggest challenges is high youth unemployment. The Youth Employment Project contributed towards changing this situation. Young people gained access to market-based, high-quality vocational training and labour market insertion support that increased their chances of successfully integrating into the professional world. The project further introduced entrepreneurship training to address challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs, such as a lack of entrepreneurial and soft skills, and lack of access to start-up capital. Swisscontact worked through local training providers and built their capacities to sustainably offer the introduced training and services.
High poverty and unemployment rates stifle the prospects of young Mozambicans. The dynamic construction industry is an ideal sector for integrating young adults into the world of work. Swisscontact improves the competitiveness of the local construction sector in terms of quality and productivity to provide construction workers with more stable employment conditions and thus, improve their income situation. This is reached through short-term induction courses for unskilled youths as well as technical skills development and certification for existing low-skilled workers. The project works closely with the private sector to create long-term employment opportunities.
Professional integration and access to autonomy is difficult for young Nigerians, regardless of their qualifications. Generally, young people make choices "by default" according to opportunities that arise, most often proposed by their families. To change this situation, Swisscontact supported the government of Niger to develop counselling centres where certified career counsellors support young people in their professional integration process, whether to find a training course, an apprenticeship, an internship or job, or to set up their own business.
Accelerated urbanisation, a lack of urban planning and a significant housing deficit have generated an increasing number of informal dwellings in Peru, where most houses do not comply with the most basic construction requirements. Its residents are at high risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. Given this situation, Swisscontact improves and institutionalises training offerings for informal construction workers and strengthens the demand of homeowners for qualified builders and reliable construction services.
As a result of population growth, urbanisation and changes in production and consumers' behaviours, the piles of waste have continuously grown in Tanzania. A lot of waste is dumped – unsorted - at open landfills or burned in backyards, resulting in health problems for thousands of people. Through the Taka ni Mali Project, Swisscontact developed economic opportunities in the solid waste collection and recycling sector, while reducing environmental degradation and health risks through an efficient and sustainable solid waste management system. For this purpose, the project strengthened waste collectors and waste recyclers in partnership with three municipalities.
The project supports smallholder farmers in the cocoa and honey value chains by facilitating their access to extension services and markets. Through hands-on training and continuing education courses, cocoa farmers and honey producers expand their skills and knowledge to improve quality and increase yields. Furthermore, Swisscontact helps farmers to sell their products by supporting producer organisations to improve their negotiation skills, build stable relations with buyers and win new sales markets.
Uganda with its young population must enable the labour market entry for thousands of youths every year. Through the Local Skills Development for Youth Project, young people from the Lake Victoria region, which is particularly affected by poverty, received access to needs-oriented vocational education and training. The project used innovative approaches, whether through learning methods in a company based on dual vocational training and working within learning groups. Young adults acquired practical and technical skills and were equipped with financial and life skills to take on their journey into professional life and earn their livelihood as employees or self-employed persons.
Many small and medium enterprises in developing countries and Eastern Europe require professional expertise for solving concrete problems or for the further development of their company but cannot afford it. This is where the Senior Expert Contact Programme comes in. Retired professionals pass on their professional expertise and know-how where it is needed by volunteering for consulting services. The primary goal of these short-term assignments is to increase competitiveness, improve product and process quality, and preserve and create jobs.