Our flagship projects

The Development Programme contributes directly to sustainable development by creating opportunities for people through job creation, income generation and productive employment. On a wider scale, this enables us to build sustainable and resilient livelihoods.


Sustainable Constructions

To anchor project achievements sustainably, cooperation between public and private actors is typically indispensable. With the support of the Hilti Foundation, Construya Colombia established a successful public/private partnership that improves the quality of construction in densely populated and illegally constructed poor neighborhoods. Many residents have built their homes on their own steam, with little money or experience and without official approval. The living spaces are often precarious, construction quality is lacking, and the homes are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes or landslides.  

On the public side, the project supported SENA, the most important public training institute in Colombia, to introduce training methodologies and strategies to teach informal construction workers safe practices. At the same time, we needed the commitment of major companies in the construction sector, who are closely linked to the project's target groups - homeowners and workers. Together with these companies, the project developed an offer that improves construction practices in informal housing. The companies, as well as their partners, such as hardware stores, are best positioned to recruit course participants. Offering relevant training modules is an exceptional opportunity to increase customer loyalty for private sector partners. At the same time, SENA benefits by sending their trainers to training where the coordination of participants is handled for them. In this way, the project was able to reach out broadly to construction workers and homeowners. Due to the creation of a win-win situation for the public and private partners, the reins are now in the hands of the partners, who will continue to offer support to vulnerable people. The approach has been so successful that it is replicated in Peru, where the situation of informal housing is very similar to Colombia, but the risk of natural disasters such as earthquakes is even greater. 



Financial Inclusion


While the methodology of the saving and lending groups is not new, Swisscontact sought ways to increase transparency and to support the Mavuno groups to connect with the digital age. Thanks to locally organised Mavuno savings and lending groups (Mavuno means "harvest" in Swahili), the members - the majority of whom are women - can mobilise savings and access small loans within the group. The groups are composed of 10 to 30 people and meet at least once a month. During these meetings, a small, predetermined amount is collected from each member as savings. These savings are then partially lent out again to its group members. This informal financial service enables them to absorb income fluctuations or build up income-generating activities. Until now, group members have recorded their savings and loans manually in books. This way of accounting is on a low-threshold level, but it is also subject to errors and lacks transparency. For this reason, Swisscontact has sought cooperation with the Kenyan software developer "Digital Vision", who created a user-friendly and adaptable software called "Chamasoft". With an app that has been adapted to the special needs and opportunities of Mavuno members, all savings and loans are now recorded digitally. Each group member can access the app's online platform and receives a message on their smartphone with the amount of savings made. Those who don’t have a smartphone will receive a simple SMS – in Kenya, the majority of the population owns a mobile phone. Using the app, all group administrators can see at any time who has the highest savings, who has taken out a loan and for how much, as well as the repayment rates. Group members have a personalised profile, where they can easily monitor their own as well as the group members' savings.




Coaching for employment and entrepreneurship

In Albania and Kosovo, young adults from stigmatised and marginalised population groups, such as Roma, are disadvantaged when entering the labour market. The Coaching Cycle was developed by Swisscontact in cooperation with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Since the project began, 2 340 young adults have successfully completed the Coaching Cycle. "Coaching for Employment and Entrepreneurship" (C4EE) gives disadvantaged young adults a new perspective. They are motivated to develop different skills during a nine-month modular coaching cycle. In partnership with civil society NGOs, national employment offices and SMEs, coaches were trained. The coaches implement the coaching sessions with young adults (58% women) in small groups. Through this integrative and personalised process, the participants developed their individual professional and personal competences. The success of the approach speaks for itself when one looks at the employment rate, which is over 80% among the graduates (before the Corona pandemic it was 90%). Public partner NES (National Agency of Employment and Skills) in Albania is also convinced of the positive results and further developed the methodology into a modular and tailor-made advisory component for job seekers. The approach has been so successful that it is now being adapted to the contexts and applied in other projects in Morocco, Lebanon, Laos and El Salvador.



Community paramedic training 


The project "Achieving Sustainability Towards Healthcare Access” – ASTHA, aims to increase youth employment through a two-year community paramedic training programme. Swisscontact has been working on transforming and modernising the learning experiences of students enrolled in the community paramedic course. In 2019, the project took an innovative approach by integrating 3D audio-visual technology into the training that improves the quality and attractiveness of the training and at the same time provides a more effective and interactive way of learning. This in turn leads to more and better qualified healthcare providers at the community level. Under a partnership agreement with the architectural visualisation company Auleek Limited, 3D content was developed for two course topics: reproductive health and the respiratory system. They can be seen using virtual reality headsets and provide a 360-degree view of the systems, basic animation of how the systems operate and a test module. Additional 3D models are planned for the future. This initiative is the first of its kind in primary healthcare education in Bangladesh.

The introduction of 3D modules has generated interest and enthusiasm among teachers and students who piloted the technology. 80% of the students found learning through virtual reality effective and the learning retention rate improved by 25%.