Helvetas has been deeply committed to development cooperation in Eastern and Southeast Europe since the early 1990s. Most of our staff members come from the region, and personally identify with people’s aspirations and concerns.
How we promote change
- In everything we do, we aim to change systems for long-term and large-scale impact. We believe in addressing systemic challenges that are roadblocks to socially inclusive, prosperous and sustainable societies.
- The systemic approach requires us to work together with multiple partners, including: civil society organizations, citizens, businesses, governments, public institutions, academia and think tanks.
- We invest significant resources in conducting and publishing research and analysis to enable fact-based decisions. We dig deep to understand root causes for underperformance and act on these.
- We continuously monitor, evaluate and adapt our projects, and learn by exchanging between our own projects and within regional and global networks.
- Our Gender and Social Equity policy ensures that our actions and partnerships are designed to contribute to a socially inclusive and open society.
What sets Helvetas apart? We asked our partners.
Areas of expertise
- Governance. Projects such as DEMOS (Kosovo) and Bashki të Forta (Albania) support the decentralization of governance systems by strengthening regional and municipal levels and democratic institutions and processes. This includes the application of good governance principles and anti-corruption measures, and building capacities of municipalities to deliver public services and manage public finances. With projects like PERFORM (Western Balkans), we aim to improve evidence-based decision-making and reforms by linking the science community with government institutions and advocacy groups.
- Economy. Projects EYE, RisiAlbania, MarketMakers, OPTIM and RECONOMY focus on stimulating economic growth and private sector investment; improving access to job matching services, career guidance and labor information; and strengthening capacities of private sector organizations to advocate for policy and regulatory reforms. Social objectives remain at the center of our projects, particularly facilitating access to future-oriented job and income opportunities for young people, women, minorities and rural communities.
- Civil Society. In all of our projects, we collaborate with civil society organizations (CSOs) representing interest groups such as women, youth, ethnic minorities and LGTBI, as well as membership organizations representing the private sector, in particular SMEs. The ACT project (Serbia) is specifically designed to strengthen the capacity of CSOs, enhancing their sustainability and facilitating networking between them.
- Education. Projects such as E4E@mk in North Macedonia, Moja Buducnost in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and EYE in Kosovo seek to institutionalize public-private partnerships in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system by working with government, municipal authorities, schools and training providers, the private sector and youth organizations in reforming the education system. Our Swiss expertise in dual VET and apprenticeship systems is of high value to our partners in the region.
- Environment. The Nature Conservation Program (North Macedonia) aims at bringing together socio-economic needs of communities with the sustainable management of natural resources. With RisiAlbania and MarketMakers, we facilitate alternative and sustainable solutions in the tourism industry. With RECONOMY, we seek to promote growth and investment in the alternative energy sector in South Caucasus.
Where we work
Currently, Helvetas operates in 12 countries across Eastern and Southeast Europe, either directly with our own offices and/or through partner organizations with whom we have developed a trusted relationship based on mutual interests and values.
We are grateful to be a trusted implementer for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida), other bilateral donors such as Norway, Netherlands and EU, as well as private donors like the Hilti Foundation and Medicor Foundation. We thank them for their generous support and for believing in Helvetas as a partner for real change.