© Helvetas / Zlatan Jovanovic


Serbia faces challenges similar to those throughout the Balkans: very high rates of youth unemployment and rural poverty. One problem is misguided reform proposals that are more often a reflection of pork-barrel politics and populist tendencies than based on scientific facts. This is why Helvetas focuses on forging links between policymakers, social scientists and civil society in Serbia.
© Helvetas / Zlatan Jovanovic
  • Capital
  • Area
    86,361 km²
    Rank: 63 out of 191
  • Population
  • Thematic focus
    Education and Vocational Skills
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Learning & Innovation
    Governance & Civic Space
* Source: UN Data

The Western Balkans are booming. Despite the economic growth, however, youth unemployment remains a widespread problem. Dim future prospects induce many young Serbs to seek work abroad, which only exacerbates the situation because companies can’t find skilled workers. This is why Helvetas supports cross-border labor market development in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia) to create jobs for young people in particular. The economic as well as the political situation is inducing many people to leave the country.

Widespread poverty and slow reforms

Serbia is doing better than the rest of the Balkan states, to be sure, but youth unemployment and rural poverty are widespread here, too. Many are frustrated about the government’s sluggish reforms, of which joining the EU is an avowed aim, but is increasingly losing its appeal.

Shoring up local authorities

As in the rest of the Western Balkans, corruption is widespread in Serbia, the legal systems are ineffectual, and authoritarian/populist tendencies are increasingly resurgent. Helvetas is working to strengthen local authorities and thereby promote democracy. From 2001 to 2011 Helvetas was active in Serbia with a project to promote decentralization and build up municipal structures, and we resumed this involvement in 2014.

Focus on social sciences

Since then Helvetas has reinforced the social sciences in Serbia and supported platforms for collaboration and exchange with policymakers and civil society, as well as better links to Western European academic institutions and access to EU funding. The social sciences play a vital role in the critical examination and analysis of social and political problems. They provide decision-makers with factual information on which to base political discussion and scientific arguments for special interest civil-society groups such as women in the labor market or minorities.

Visit the website of Helvetas Serbia.

© Helvetas / Boba Andjelkovic
© Helvetas / Boba Andjelkovic
© Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
© Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
© Helvetas / Snowyns
© Helvetas / Snowyns

Our Projects in Serbia

 If you would like to know more about our work in Serbia, click on each project for details.

© Helvetas / Armand Habazaj
Albania, Serbia Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Social Sciences for a Better Society

Serbia Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

ACT for a Stronger Civil Society

© Helvetas / Arben Llapashtica
Armenia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, Montenegro Education and Vocational Skills

Building Economies Where All Can Prosper

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

Education and Vocational Skills

Lack of education perpetuates inequality because poor countries cannot compete economically without a skilled workforce.

Learning & Innovation

Building the capacities of staff and partners to effectively share what they know, to learn together and create effective solutions is crucial to our success.

Helvetas Eastern Europe Unit
Maulbeerstr. 10
3010 Bern

Phone:+41 31 385 10 10
E-Mail: easterneurope@helvetas.org