Credit Suisse - Swisscontact Initiative to promote entrepreneurship and innovation

In 2018, Swisscontact embarked on a journey with the Credit Suisse Foundation, with the aim of contributing to creating better conditions for opportunity-driven entrepreneurs - and thus promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) as well as 17 (partnerships). 
swissontact, cambodia
swisscontact guatemala
kigali rwanda
kampala, uganda
Project duration
2018 - 2022


Credit Suisse has a long history of entrepreneurship going back to its founding. Swisscontact has decades of experience fostering, supporting, and accelerating entrepreneurs all over the world and research clearly recognizes the important role of entrepreneurs for economic growth and job creation in emerging markets.

Yet entrepreneurs do not exist in a vacuum. Just as it takes 'a whole village to raise a child', it takes a whole ecosystem to nurture, guide and raise successful entrepreneurs. It is widely acknowledged that a well-functioning ecosystem is therefore key to fostering systemic entrepreneurial success and for Swisscontact - with ‘Inclusive System Development’ as part of our DNA - it is only logical to take a systemic perspective on entrepreneurship.

Now, the challenge we observed was that while the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems and ecosystem building had gained attention, it was not obvious how to transfer and operationalize these insights to the programs on the ground. Little was being said about key characteristics of successful ecosystems and even less about how to influence and measure them. The aim of this initiative was therefore to help identify and share best practice around the key characteristics of successful ecosystems.


The project was structured along the topics of ‘Testing’, ‘Harvesting’ and ‘Promotion’ with activities on a global level, but with focus on Guatemala, Cambodia, Rwanda and Uganda.

Led by local entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders we tested a range of approaches and tools in different contexts, we harvested existing best practices and worked on promoting them on different levels – working directly with entrepreneurs, with ecosystem building support organisations as well as exchanging and collaborating with funding institutions. 


Important Activities and Achievements of the initiative include:

  • Conducting Social Network Analysis for Uganda (Kampala & Jinja), Rwanda (Kigali) and Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and promoting the tool within donor and ecosystem builder communities.
  • Developing the Ecosystem Health Check with its framework and piloting in Germany, Guatemala, Cambodia, Albania, Lebanon and Nigeria in collaboration with DEEP Ecosystems.
  • Co-creating the Trust Building Playbook with ecosystem builders from Uganda and the USA.
  • Co-creating of the Beyond The Known Conference 2019 and 2021 with other donor organizations
  • Piloting of an accelerator program for East Africa together with DEEP Ecosystem in 2021
  • Piloting the Give A Day format in Cambodia after its development in Uganda
  • Hosting a donor roundtable at Sankalp Summit East Africa 2020 on “how to move from donor-centric to entrepreneur-centric ecosystems”
  • Co-founding of the OS4Grwoth initiative
  • Speaking at a range of virtual and physical events to promote the Social Network Analysis, the Ecosystem Health Check, the Trust Building Playbook.

Key learnings

For the most important take away and recommendations after 4,5 years of the CSSC initiative please have a look at our “Key Learnings” here.

Financing partners

This project is financed by Credit Suisse. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA. 

Key resources

Key learnings and recommendations summarised
Swisscontact has summarised key learnings and recommendations for future initiatives working in the area of entrepreneurial ecosystems
Guatemala, Germany, Switzerland
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
A new Ecosystem Health Check for your Startup Community
Swisscontact and Startup Heatmap Europe* have joined forces to develop a self-serving toolkit that empowers startup hubs all around the world to measure the health of their ecosystems. The toolkit supports managers of startup programs, university incubators, research transfer organizations, ecosystem builders and policy makers to track the progress of their ecosystem build-up.
Uganda, United States
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Building Trust – A Playbook to Build Trust in Networks and Ecosystems
Together with Erin Ouzts and Kevin Asinde, Swisscontact has compiled methods to support ecosystem actors as they reflect on their roles and intentionally build trust within a community. 
Social Network Analysis applied in different contexts
Swisscontact tested Social Network Analysis in Uganda, Rwanda, Indonesia, Albania and Cambodia – and learnt how it can be used as an analytical, an advocacy and a community building tool at the same time.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Swisscontact explains: Development of entrepreneurial ecosystems
Start-ups have a better chance to grow if they are part of a living entrepreneurial ecosystem. Swisscontact is committed to ensuring that ecosystems in developing and emerging countries can support start-ups according to their needs.


Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Give a Day 7: Cambodia Digital Economy and FinTech Development Landscape and Policy
On 19 August, Khmer Enterprise, WE Act via Pac and Swisscontact organized the 7th “Give a Day” monthly meeting which is an initiative within the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building (EEB) Project. The meeting was attended 63 participants representing investors, start-ups, entrepreneurial support organizations, government among others.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building
Collaboration with Khmer Enterprise, USAID's WE Act Project through Pact and Swisscontact to strengthen an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cambodia
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Khmer Enterprise and Swisscontact on strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cambodia 
Khmer Enterprise and Swisscontact signed a Partnership Agreement to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cambodia. This collaboration seeks to pilot several tools in the Phnom Penh Ecosystem to promote collaboration between entrepreneurial support organizations (ESO) and foster peer exchange and mentorship. This collaboration is jointly funded by Khmer Enterprise and Credit Suisse through Credit Suisse-Swisscontact (CSSC) initiative. 
Mapping Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Cambodia Through Collaboration
Ecosystems thrive when people and resources are connected and work together to serve entrepreneurs throughout all the stages of growth and development. Swisscontact and Impact Hub Phnom Penh are conducting a social network analysis (SNA) to better understand the connectivity and robustness of the entrepreneurships support ecosystem in Cambodia....
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Bringing the Kigali Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to New Heights
The Story of Aneth Batamuliza, Hub Network Community Manager
Indonesia, Rwanda, Uganda
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Uganda, Rwanda and Indonesia: Learning to understand social networks
Swisscontact has been gathering various insights into the analysis of social networks. Two examples show how this tool can be used in different areas of focus and contexts.
Common Lexicon – Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
Having a shared language and common understanding behind the various concepts related to entrepreneurial ecosystems is critical to collaboration – and collaboration is critical to further grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Below, we are introducing a list of the most common terms that hopefully help standardize the terminology and contribute to a better understanding.