© Helvetas / Agnieszka Kroskowska

Partnership and Capacity Development: How we strengthen our partners

© Helvetas / Agnieszka Kroskowska

Helvetas recognizes partnership and capacity development as a process that helps unleash, strengthen and maintain the capacities of people, organizations and societies over time. Capacity encompasses both the “hard skills”, specific technical or specialized knowledge and know-how, and “soft skills” that enable us to carry out our roles and achieve our development objectives.

Why partnerships and capacity building matter

Sustainable change must be owned by national actors. Working in partnerships is a fundamental principle of Helvetas’ work. We strive to build evolving, reliable, and strong partnerships to secure lasting impact, increase the legitimacy of development interventions, and ensure sustainable change beyond the scope of individual project durations.

What we do

Strong, self-determined local actors guarantee that development steps are locally anchored and designed to last. Capacity development is an integral part of all our work. For us, capacity development is a mutual learning process. It enables individuals, organizations, sectors and societies to manage development change processes. Capacity encompasses specific technical knowledge and know-how, “soft skills” such as networking, leadership and change management, as well as financial resources and infrastructure. Capacity development is a core element in our partnerships with government actors, the private sector and civil society organizations. Helvetas is convinced that different actors with their specific capacities contribute to successful development processes.

In order to mainstream partnership and capacity development in our work, we have defined its main principles in our Helvetas Partnership Policy. Download it in English, Spanish, French or Russian .

© Helvetas
Kakao cacao,April 2008 © Helvetas
© Helvetas / Sarah Niemeyer
Peace and Co-Existence Commitee of a Sri Lankan village with Sin, Tamil and Muslim © Helvetas / Sarah Niemeyer

What we offer

  • Expertise in mainstreaming partnership and capacity development in strategy, programme and project planning in sectors and working fields including decentralization and local governance and market systems development
  • Design and planning of feasibility studies and assessments
  • Capacity development of individuals, organizations and sectors related to our thematic expertise
  • Organizational development of civil society organizations, small and medium-sized businesses and public institutions
  • Facilitating multi-stakeholder approaches
  • Backstopping: Project backstopping; coaching; trainings; development of training manuals and material; creation of innovative tools; facilitation of workshops and change processes; capitalization of experiences; knowledge management tools and platforms
  • Support in integrating partnership and capacity development in monitoring systems, mid-term reviews, end evaluations and impact assessments
  • Geographical coverage: Our advisors in the South and the North provide support to projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Our criteria for a successful partnership

Successful partnerships are an essential asset for achieving sustainable change. It is therefore important for Helvetas to get to know new partners thoroughly before starting a new cooperation. We use quality criteria that help us assess opportunities and risks of a partnership. The criteria are divided into 4 categories and are central for effective cooperation:

  1. Consistency & values: What are the complementarities in the partnership? What are our common values and goals?
  2. Organisational development: What’s the professional level of a partner? What management capacities does the partner have? Depending on the answers, we offer support in organizational development.
  3. Risks: Are there ethical or legal aspects that could put the partnership at risk? For example, how does the partner address the risk of fraud and corruption or how is gender equality ensured? We set minimum requirements, and we support partners if they do not meet them. If the risks are too high, we may refrain from partnering.
  4. Ethical standards: The exclusion criteria represent a minimum ethical standard that Helvetas sets for all partnerships. For example, we do not work with organisations who are trading or investing in weapon or who use child labour. If a potential partner does not meet these criteria, a partnership is not possible.

A detailed description of the criteria can be downloaded here.

Meet the team and feedback

Our multilingual experts offer wide-ranging thematic know-how and have in-depth experience in navigating complex processes. Helvetas’ work builds on over 60 years of experience in more than 30 countries.

For any inputs and questions on our partnership approach, please contact info@helvetas.org.

Report on suspected corruption

Would you like to report a suspected corruption case related to Helvetas’ activities? Here you find possibilities to communicate grievances in case of non-compliance with Helvetas code of conduct and regulations, procurement standards and environmental and social safeguards, or project design, selection and implementation.

Selected projects

Helvetas develops and guides projects. To be sustainable, they must be locally embedded. We support our partners in effectively organizing projects and processes and assist local authorities to better assume their responsibilities.

© Helvetas
Laos Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Fostering Civic Engagement

Guatemala Private Sector Development

Women´s Agro-entrepreneurship in the Highlands

© Helvetas
Vietnam Private Sector Development

Fighting Poverty with Responsible Tourism

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Justice for All

Bangladesh_CSO-LA_5 | © Julia Thienhaus / Helvetas
Bangladesh Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

Strengthening Capacities of the Disadvantaged

Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, India Partnership & Capacity Development

Value Chain Capacity Building Network

© Helvetas
Vietnam Private Sector Development

Swiss Import Promotion Program

© 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

Our quarterly newsletter “Highlights”

For development practitioners and anyone interested in our projects and approaches.

Further information

Download and read our publications on different partnership and capacity development related topics.

Partnerships, alliances and networks

Other topics that might interest you

Our Working Principles and Approaches

We strive for a fairer world in which everyone can fulfill their basic needs. We support people in taking charge of improving their livelihoods sustainably.

Our Advisory Services

Meet and contact Helvetas’ multi-disciplinary team of development experts advising the private sector, civil society and other organizations.

Our Topics

Helvetas’ work impacts livelihoods: water, food and the environment. Thanks to trainings and capacity building people better determine their living conditions.