Our Principles and Approaches

Helvetas strives for a fairer world in which every person can fulfill her or his basic needs. We support women and men in taking charge of improving their livelihoods in a sustainable manner and in working together as partners. The impact of our work is the product of a of a three-pronged approach: project work, thematic and methodological advice as well as policy dialogue at local, regional and international level. In Switzerland, awareness raising efforts and our fairtrade shop complete our commitment.

Our principles

  • We work in partnership on the basis of shared values, and strengthen our partners in their autonomy.
  • We shape our programs in an innovative and sustainable manner.
  • We actively engage in development policy dialogue seeking to influence international regulatory frameworks towards being more just and responsive to the demands of developing countries.
  • We work with civil society organizations, private sector and government actors and promote exchange among them at local, national and international levels.
  • We take into account the local context. In fragile situations, we engage in conflict prevention and management.
  • We foster intercultural dialogue, the exchange of experiences and knowledge and thus learn for our future work.
  • We uphold good governance and democratic accountability, including the fight against corruption.
  • We work in an outcome-oriented and efficient manner. As a learning organization, we systematically monitor the results and impacts of our programs and projects.
  • We are committed to transparency and accountability towards our partners and stakeholders. We foster open internal and external communication.
  • We support the professional and personal development of our personnel.

Our Impact

As a learning organization we assess the impact of our interventions to improve our work and to ensure accountability vis-a-vis our donors and partners.

Guiding principles of our project work

Development cooperation is challenging. It takes place in a difficult environment and requires staff to have a wide variety of skills. Technical knowledge alone is insufficient for successful and sustainable development. Social skills and the openness to engage with different cultural values are just as crucial.

Respect for the people we work with and striving to learn and grow from the dialogue with our local partners build the bedrock of Helvetas’ development work. Sharing knowledge and experiences across different cultures and geographical borders has been part of our mission. Online sharing platforms have made discussions fast and globally available. Helvetas believes that international development depends on a dialogue between cultures and on spaces that allow men and women to express their needs and abilities freely.

Helvetas is convinced that development can only be effective if the conditions of long-term engagement are met. We have gained a wealth of experience from more than six decades of working in the Global South. The following principles guide our work:

Proximity to the grassroots

The needs and interests of the grassroots local population are central to Helvetas’ work. Local actors must be in the driver’s seat when determining the kind of support most urgently needed. The participation of all – men and women – in planning and implementing projects is our core approach. When involving local populations we show pathways to improving their living conditions.

Helvetas interventions carefully map and build on the development efforts of other governmental and non-governmental organizations to ensure lasting, sustainable and widespread impact.

Partnership based on mutual trust

Successful development collaboration requires strong local partners, who can build a bridge between foreign aid and domestic needs. Working with local partners is imperative for Helvetas such as non-governmental organizations, government bodies or actors from the private sector. Collaboration is based on mutual respect and respect for each other's autonomy.

Helvetas values an open exchange of information and clear agreements on joint goals, allocation of responsibilities as well as contribution of ressources. We avoid dependence and empower partners to run projects on their own. Helvetas systematically supports the training and capacity building of partner organizations and their staff.

Self-determined development

Through development cooperation, we support women and men in taking charge of improving their livelihoods in a sustainable manner. We avoid any actions that degrade people to the status of simple “beneficiaries.” We attempt, whenever possible, to link up with ongoing processes and to support existing organizations – or else to influence the general conditions so that autonomous movements and organizations can emerge and become active. We strengthen the independence of our partners – whether they be local people, local partner organizations or the authorities.

The goal of a development project must be to allow people, organizations and political units to live, operate and determine their actions without outside help. Change requires time and effort. Helvetas advocates for a long-term commitment to projects and country programs.

© Helvetas / Christian Bobst
WIN,REC,ECC © Helvetas / Christian Bobst
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© Helvetas / Joerg Boethling
Afrika,Anbau,Bauer,Bauern,Baumwolle,Baumwollernte,Baumwollkapsel,Baumwollpflanze,Bio,Biobauern,Biobaumwolle,Burkina Faso,Dorf,Entwicklung,Ernte,Fairer Handel,Fairtrade,Farmer,Faser,Faserpflanzen,Frau,Frauen,Landwirtschaft,Naturfaser,Oekologie,Pflanze,Rohstoffe,Trade,africa,african,afrikanische,afrikanischer,agriculture,biological,biologischer,boll formation,clean clothes,cotton,cotton made in Africa,development,ernten,farming,feld,felder,fibre,field,harvest,harvesting,kba,kontrolliert oekologischer,laendliche,natural,oekologischer,organic,pfluecken,plant,pluck,resources,rural,transfair,woman,women © Helvetas / Joerg Boethling
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© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Ackerbau agriculture,Mann man,Bruecke bridge,Riverbed farming © Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
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© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Chaung Gwa Village,Dry Zone,Myanmar Hanspeter Bundi 2017,Nyom Tun 38 with sunglasses is the specialist for the soothing h,S4RLD,Skill Development Project,Soap Maker Than Than Maw 32 in Flower Print Blouse © Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
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© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Family of Mitra Tamang,35,earthquake victim,husband of Pampha Tamang,28,and father of Samir Tamang,3,and Susma Tamang,10. Graduated trainee of Employment Fund (EF) for earthquake res,earthquake resiliant house) © Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
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Further information

Selected projects

© Helvetas
Mali Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Dynamizing Agriculture for the Youth

© Helvetas
Laos Governance, Peace & Migration

Fostering Civic Engagement

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Laos Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Good Tea Fetches Good Prices

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Nepal Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Riverbed Vegetables

© Helvetas
Ethiopia Governance, Peace & Migration

Taking Responsibility for Village Administration

© Helvetas
Tanzania Knowledge and Learning

Better-Trained Teachers for Better Schools

© Helvetas
Madagascar Environment and Climate Change

Boosting Income to Boost Rainforest Conservation

© Helvetas
Mozambique Skills Development and Education

Training for the Real Working World

© Helvetas
Honduras Knowledge and Learning

Vocational Training as a Way out of a Dead End

© Helvetas
Haiti Environment and Climate Change

Better Prepared for Storms

© Helvetas
Guatemala Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Entrepreneurship in the Guatemalan Highlands

© Helvetas / Flurina Rothenberger
Myanmar Knowledge and Learning

Well Equipped for the Working World

© Helvetas
Vietnam Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Fighting Poverty with Responsible Tourism

© Helvetas
Bhutan Skills Development and Education

Building Trades with a Future for Young Men and Women

© Helvetas / Christian Bobst
Kosovo Skills Development and Education

Jobs for Young People

© Helvetas
Benin Skills Development and Education

Making Up Lost Years of School

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Ethiopia Skills Development and Education

Know-How and Skills for Young Tradespeople

© Helvetas
Ethiopia Environment and Climate Change

Herders Prepare for Climate Change Impacts

© Helvetas
Pakistan Governance, Peace & Migration

Economic Prospects for Peace and Stability

© Helvetas
Bangladesh Governance, Peace & Migration

Sound Local Policy for Real Change

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Bangladesh Environment and Climate Change

Clean Drinking Water from the Skies Above

Sri Lanka Governance, Peace & Migration

Making Labor Migration a Success

© Helvetas / Bruna Fossati
Sri Lanka Governance, Peace & Migration

Young People on Course for Reconciliation

© Helvetas
Bhutan Environment and Climate Change

Protecting and Sustainably Using Forests

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Nepal Environment and Climate Change

Fresh Start after the Earthquake

Vietnam_Biotrade_Woman | © Helvetas
Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Ethical Trade in Botanicals

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Creating Jobs to Escape Poverty

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Governance, Peace & Migration

Justice for All

© DLDP
Albania Governance, Peace & Migration

Building Confidence in Democracy

© Helvetas / Patrick Rohr
Bosnia-Herzegovina Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Making Markets and Jobs

© Helvetas / Armand Habazaj
Albania, Serbia Governance, Peace & Migration

Social Sciences for a Better Society

© Helvetas
Mali Environment and Climate Change

New Strategies to Adapt to Climate Change

© Helvetas
Macedonia Environment and Climate Change

Getting Biodiversity on the Agenda

© Helvetas
Bangladesh Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Joining Forces to Get Better Prices

© Helvetas / Markus Wild
Bhutan Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Market Access: A Way Out of Poverty for Farmers

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Bolivia Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Protecting the Primeval Forest with Cacao

© Helvetas
Benin Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Training and Inspiration for Young Farmers

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Governance, Peace & Migration

Water for Sustainable Development

© Helvetas
Tajikistan Rural Access

Organic to Markets

© Helvetas
Bhutan Governance, Peace & Migration

Partnership for Diverse Civil Society Actions

© Helvetas
Vietnam Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

BioTrade Initiative in Vietnam

Bangladesh_CSO-LA_5 | © Julia Thienhaus / Helvetas
Bangladesh Governance, Peace & Migration

Strengthening Capacities of the Disadvantaged

Mozambique Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Enhancing Livelihoods of Smallholder Farmers and Small Entrepreneurs

Albania Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Making Markets Work for the Youth

© Helvetas
Nepal Governance, Peace & Migration

Making Labor Migration an Informed Choice

© Helvetas
Nepal Skills Development and Education

Safer Houses, and Skills for Future Employment

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Governance, Peace & Migration

Improving the Life Conditions in Rural Areas of Kyrgyzstan

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Governance, Peace & Migration

Contributing to a More Cohesive Society in Kyrgyzstan

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Skills Development and Education

Green Skills Training in Rural Areas Project

© S4RE
Kosovo Skills Development and Education

Matching Skills with Demand in the Labor Market

Macedonia Skills Development and Education

Market-Oriented Education for a Prosperous Society

© DEMOS
Kosovo Governance, Peace & Migration

Building a Democratic Kosovo

© Swiss Embassy in Albania
Albania Governance, Peace & Migration

Strengthening Local Governance for Empowered Citizens

© Helvetas
Kyrgyzstan Skills Development and Education

Providing the Local Industry With Professionals

Vietnam Partnership and Capacity Development

Value Chain Capacity Building Network

© Helvetas
Nepal Environment and Climate Change

Rehabilitating Facilities Destroyed in the Earthquake

© Helvetas
Vietnam Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Swiss Import Promotion Program

© Helvetas
Vietnam Knowledge and Learning

Beef Trade

Vietnam Water

LIVE

© Water Sanitation Mozambique
Switzerland Water

Swiss Water Partnership

© Water for food
Global Governance, Peace & Migration

Tackling corruption in the water sector

© Helvetas
India Environment and Climate Change

Strengthening State Strategies for Climate Actions

© HelvetasBhutan
Bhutan Governance, Peace & Migration

Bringing decision-making to local communities

Global Sustainable and Inclusive Economies

Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

© Helvetas
Guatemala Governance, Peace & Migration

Entrepreneurship in the Guatemalan Highlands

© Helvetas
Bhutan Skills Development and Education

Skilling the Bhutanese youth for the construction market

Other topics that might interest you

Knowledge and Learning

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.

Our Impact

As a learning organization we assess the impact of our interventions to improve our work and to ensure accountability vis-a-vis our donors and partners.

Partnership and Capacity Development

Sustainable change must be owned by national actors. Working in partnerships is a fundamental principle of Helvetas’ work.