Swisscontact in the Lao PDR: A decade of contributing to sustainable developments in the Lao PDR

Mr. Michael Fink, Country Director of Swisscontact Lao PDR26.12.2023
Lao PDR has developed rapidly since the mid-1990s with a GDP growth of on average 7% per year and significant improvements in poverty reduction and livelihoods for the Lao population. However, the effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic crisis created major challenges for the country with high inflation, a depreciating currency, and many young Laotians seeking opportunities abroad. In addition to economic challenges, climate change and environmental pollution in the context of urbanisation are other key challenges that need to be addressed.
Mr. Michael Fink, Country Director of Swisscontact Lao PDR

With the support of our donors, we are working together with the Lao government, as well as private and civil society partners, to address these challenges. We believe that private initiative is a key driver of innovation, change and economic development. On the one hand, we address economic challenges by strengthening the skills of young people to enter the labour market or start small businesses to create local jobs. Moreover, we address environmental challenges by supporting small and medium enterprises in their green transition and strengthening the urban waste management system. 

A major success over the past 10 years has been our work in supporting the tourism development in Southern Laos through a destination branding strategy taken up by local stakeholders. Another highlight is the innovative coaching cycle approach that we introduced as part of the SDC-funded Skills Development project VTESS to support the labour market insertion of 1,000 disadvantaged youth. Eventually, we began to address environmental challenges in the country in 2022 with our new project Waste to Value, introducing innovative solutions to food and plastic waste management in the hospitality sector and supporting informal waste pickers.

"I have just visited graduates of our SDC-funded skills development project VTESS, who we supported in entrepreneurship and setting up small businesses. It was impressive to see these young people successfully running their small businesses even after the project support ended and showing their own initiative by re-investing and further innovating their business. Also inspiring was the Eco Challenge that we recently organised, where teams of young people showcased their innovative local products to address environmental challenges through recycling or alternatives to single-use plastics. The event demonstrated that there is a young generation with innovative business ideas that wants to make a positive change in the country."

Over the past 10 years, we had the opportunity to build strong relationships with public partner from the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and other ministries. We also cooperate closely with the TVET colleges in our target provinces and engage with the private sector, social enterprises and civil society partners in the Lao PDR to implement project activities. These partnerships have been crucial for the success of our projects.


With the support of our donors and in cooperation with our public and private partners, we are looking forward to further support the development of the country by strengthening the labour-market relevant skills of young people and to further address environmental challenges, by improving waste management and creating green jobs and income in the Lao PDR. In addition to our ongoing activities, we are looking forward to new initiatives in the coming year around digital literacy and coding classes for upper secondary and TVET students, as well as working with Civil Society actors to strengthen sustainable consumption and production in the Lao PDR with support from the EU and SDC.

"I appreciate our partners' decade-long collaboration, which is crucial for the success of our projects. Thanks to the donors for their trust in Swisscontact and to my team for their extra efforts in achieving our mission for sustainable development in the Lao PDR.  "
– Michael Fink
10 years creating opportunities in Lao PDR
Where did we come from and where do we go