Senior Expert Contact (SEC – formerly “Senior Expert Corps”) is Swisscontact’s oldest ongoing project. Since 1979, it has been linking SMEs in Swisscontact partner countries with retired Swiss professionals and their expertise. Over the course of several weeks on-site, they can trigger impulses to business development, supporting SMEs to develop and grow. With the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, these consultancies were suddenly no longer possible.
Exchange through digital channels
To prevent the programme from grinding to a standstill, the project team developed the conditions for consultancy assignments to be carried out via digital channels instead of on-site within just a few weeks. Each of these distance consultancies now follows a clear process and predefined time frame of between 6 and 12 weeks. The goal is for experts to work with clients in partner countries for at least two hours per week. Their expertise is also provided free-of-charge in the distance consultancies.
Flying high in Bolivia
An architecture agency in Bolivia is planning to build a green high-rise in La Paz and is looking for help from a landscape architect. It was intended for this consultancy assignment to take place on-site, instead, it will be carried out virtually. “Supporting a green high-rise project in La Paz, which entails the construction of apartments for socially disadvantaged as well as middle-class residents – this is a must-have! If in this high-rise (initially abandoned) projects such as wastewater recycling, collection of condensation water, urban farming, and façade greening can be advanced, then the distance consultancy will be absolutely worth it” says Michael Jakob, an architect and SEC expert. For the team in Bolivia, the distance consultancy is a positive experience and very helpful in the development of their green high-rise project: “Michael is helping us a lot. Thanks to his advice we are able to improve the project and move it forward. Although his support is virtual, we have had pleasant meetings and good results” according to Alessandro Baldo, an architect and Project Manager at Cassur, Bolivia.