Rural Economy

The Rural Economy team provides advisory services to HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation programmes and external clients. Our thematic fields focus on sustainable agriculture, food security, value chain facilitation, private sector development and rural finance. We offer particular competence in designing sustainable production systems (including water management) and innovative rural advisory services.

In value chain facilitation we cover both local market development and certified agricultural commodity chains. We support our clients in designing internal control and quality management systems as per the requirements of the market. Our Organic & Fairtrade Competence Centre has long-standing experience in linking producers with markets of certified produce and in facilitating knowledge exchange.

Our competence in private sector development is closely linked to promoting small businesses which create employment, and to making markets work for the poor. We are used to closely collaborate with the private sector and to set up public private development partnerships. We have a long standing experience in rural finance, in particular the strengthening of self help credit and saving schemes, the institutional development of rural microfinance institutions and value chain finance. We believe that sustainable agriculture and a thriving rural economy are crucial for improving rural livelihoods.


  • Sustainable agriculture systems
  • Food security
  • Agricultural Extension
  • Organic farming and fair trade
  • Internal control systems and certification
  • Value chain facilitation
  • Income and employment generation
  • Market access and marketing capacities
  • Private sector development
  • Quality management and business planning
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Business development services
  • Rural finance and value chain finance
  • Saving and credit and micro insurance
  • Design & Planning Project and programme planning; strategic planning; feasibility studies; assessments
    Capacity Development & Backstopping Project and programme backstopping; development of training manuals and material; development of innovative tools; facilitation of thematic workshops; coaching; trainings; capitalisation of experiences; knowledge management tools and platforms
    Technical support Expert advice in technical fields, such as water management, internal control systems, quality management and business planning
    Monitoring & Evaluation Monitoring systems; mid-term reviews; end evaluations; impact assessments  
    • SDC: M4P - Market Systems Development approach (more)
    • SDC: Thematic backstopping of the Employment & Income network (more)
    • Coop Switzerland: Organic and Fair Trade Rice Project in India and Thailand (more)
    • HIVOS/SECO/IDH: Developing the capacity building platform SustainabilityXchange
    • ICCO/SECO: Development and facilitation of the Global Organic Cotton Community Platform
    • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation: Backstopping of the Sustainable Soil Management Programme in Nepal
    • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation: Planning and thematic support of a livelihood programme in Afghanistan
    • SECO: Advice to organic and fairtrade cotton projects in West-Africa and Central Asia
    • Coop Switzerland: Support to organic cocoa value chain in Honduras
    • Rabobank Foundation: Feasibility study on sustainable cocoa value chains in Indonesia
    • SECO: Implementation of ECOMERCADOS project in Central America
    • EFSE: Development Impact Study 2009 on Agricultural Finance

Team leaders

  • Maja Rüegg

    Co-Team Leader Rural Economy/Advisor Value Chains & Market Development To profile
  • Rudolf Lüthi

    Co-Team Leader Rural Economy/Senior Advisor Value Chains