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achieving-impact

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Testkapitel 2

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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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The quality of public finances determines how a country shapes its business environment, and whether it can offer its population and its companies functioning basic services and reduce inequality.
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Mismanagement, short-term planning and corruption give taxpayers reason to mistrust the government and to refrain from fulfilling their tax obligation. SECO helps government administrations plan their investments thoroughly, improve their public procurement systems, and make them more transparent.
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The example Peru: the country’s economy has grown rapidly over the past few years. This has opened up opportunities for the government to better supply its citizens with basic services, for example in the areas of education, health, water supply, waste management, public transport and security.
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In Peru, regional and local authorities spend more than 40 percent of all public funds. They are expected to manage their finances reliably and transparently and to use them in line with national priorities and local strategies. SECO’s Subnational Public Finance Management Strengthening Programme helps them to do this.
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For instance, hundreds of employees in the public sector have completed specialist degrees in managing public finances. Public prosecutors, investigators and members of the judiciary received training on how to track down stolen public assets and investigate accusations of corruption.
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Hamilton Castro

Public Prosecutor, Expert in asset recovery, Lima

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Solid public finances and good governance boost the government’s credibility and strengthen the trust of citizens and companies in public institutions. They are willing to pay taxes for services. Today, Peru is one of the few countries in Latin America that regularly boasts a budget surplus.

Growth-promoting economic policy

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Ambassador Raymund Furre
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Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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Trade allows companies to become more competitive, to grow, to preserve jobs and to create new ones. It thus enables many people to participate in the advantages of globalisation and to escape poverty.
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In 2017, the World Trade Organization (WTO) launched a trade facilitation agreement. The goal of the agreement is to reduce bureaucracy and facilitate access to global value chains. According to the WTO, it has the potential to reduce global trading costs by an average of roughly 14 percent and to increase the annual trading volume by up to 1 billion dollars. The poorest countries will benefit the most from this – provided they fully implement the respective measures.
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Developing countries often do not conduct international trade as efficiently as they could. They lack framework conditions, functioning institutions and technical expertise, which leads to delays and additional costs. This is why SECO supports its partner countries in setting up modern systems. One example is the Global Trade Facilitation Programme (GTFP), which SECO implements in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO). 
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For instance, in Colombia the program is helping the customs administration to improve risk management and auditing and to implement sustainable reforms.

«This is helping us on our way to becoming a modern, efficient and transparent organisation, in turn creating a more agile trading environment and greater competitiveness.»

Ingrid Diaz, Director customs administration


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In Peru and other Latin American countries, the programme holds workshops for executive staff from customs administrations. It helps them develop strategies for the modernisation of their customs authorities.

«The workshop boosted my skills as a manager and it’s helping me to drive forward reforms to facilitate trade. »

Marilú Llerena Aybar, Deputy Head customs administration

Rules-based trade system





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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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The SECO-funded Swiss Entrepreneurship Programme reinforces local “ecosystems for entrepreneurship” which support start-ups.
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The Swiss Entrepreneurship Programme engages in partnerships with private local actors who provide services for start-ups. It also reinforces networks with mentors and investors. It is implemented in Serbia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Peru and Vietnam. The second phase of the programme began in 2019. It now also aims at influencing the regulatory business environment in these countries in order to improve the framework conditions for companies.
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In 2019, the programme hosted a Women Entrepreneurs Week for the second time. Twenty female company founders from seven countries came together in Zurich to network with one another, with female representatives from the Swiss start-up scene and international female mentors. The event focused on how they could successfully position their businesses and market these digitally.
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Claudia Quintanilla and Amparo Nalvarte met in Zurich too. Both are Peruvian entrepreneurs in the fintech sector. Claudia founded the company Rextie. The company specialises in converting US dollars into her native currency at a fair exchange rate – digitally and in real time. Claudia is looking for investors to help her further develop her company. For instance, she wants to tailor the company optimally to the Peruvian context and enable digital signatures too. Amparo was in Zurich as a mentor.
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«I was so impressed by Claudia’s dedication, perseverance and belief that I decided to invest 50,000 US dollars in her company myself.»

Amparo Nalvarte, Entrepreneur

Innovation-friendly business environment
 



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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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Cities emit more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. In the coming decades, populations will grow predominantly in urban areas.  
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That is why SECO is helping authorities to organise their cities effectively and linking up urban areas logically to ensure people can move efficiently within them.
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Spotlight on Bogotá: a SECO-funded cable car has been operating as a means of public transport in Colombia’s capital city since 2019, stimulating both social and economic life. Stretching almost three and a half kilometres, the TransMiCable connects Ciudad Bolívar, a low-income area in the South West, with ones of the main bus lines in San Cristóbal in the South East of Bogotá.
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The TransMiCable offers more than half a million residents a quick and convenient way of moving around within their city. It cuts the travel time to workplaces and public services in the city centre by roughly 80 percent to about 13 minutes. The cable car transported more than 1.8 million passengers in its first three months of operation alone. The TransMiCable replaces 110 buses, reducing not only the chronic congestion of the city’s roads, but its CO2 emissions too.
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The cable car project generates social and economic activity. It has helped the community to revitalise public spaces around the four station buildings. New squares, community centres, children’s playgrounds and lots of street art have emerged. These developments spur the local economy and create jobs. In fact, a number of businesses such as bakeries, souvenir shops, restaurants and even a hotel have appeared next to the stations.
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Ana Mercedes
Mora
President of the neighbourhood ‘El Paraiso’, Ciudad Bolivar

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In a subproject funded by SECO, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) advised the authorities in Bogotá on two questions. How can cities manage urban infrastructure projects like the TransMiCable efficiently while establishing international environmental and social standards? And how can the private sector be encouraged to become more involved in urban infrastructure projects? Subsequently, the city succeeded in mobilising an estimated 450 million US dollars of private sector funds for such projects.

Urban development and infrastructure services
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Ambassador Raymund Furrer
Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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Companies need sound and long-term financing solutions. Then they can invest, tap into new markets and create decent employment opportunities.
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That is why SECO provides companies with capital and technical expertise and trains local banks in lending.

SECO cooperates with the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM), the development finance institution of the Swiss Confederation created in 2011. It provides long-term financial support to established SMEs and fast-growing companies in the form of shareholdings, loans and expertise.  

Until 2019, SIFEM, together with its co-investors, had succeeded in creating or maintaining around 830,000 jobs.
 
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Change of scenery. The energy sector is South Africa: coal-fired power stations generate 90 percent of the electricity, leading to high CO2 emissions. As demand for energy in South Africa rises, the power stations do not have enough capacity to meet the requirements, causing recurring power outages throughout the country.
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While electricity costs in South Africa have risen by more than 300 percent in the last 10 years, the cost of solar photovoltaic energy has been falling. This is making solar power increasingly attractive to commercial and industrial users, in turn promoting a climate-friendly economy. Nevertheless, South-African SMEs are rarely in a position to finance their own solar energy systems.
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That is why SIFEM invests in the photovoltaic company SolarAfrica via a fund. The company offers customers modern financing solutions for solar panels on their roofs. SolarAfrica handles the procurement and installation of the panels including commercial operation, monitoring and maintenance. The company concludes power purchase agreements with its customers. They pay only for the quantity of energy actually used and save up to 40 percent in comparison with the electricity rates of the local energy providers. SolarAfrica has installed more than 34,000 solar collectors to date.

Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets SIFEM
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One of SolarAfrica’s customers is the Apollo Hotel near Johannesburg.

«SolarAfrica always offers electricity rates that are lower than those of the public utility company. And we have absolutely zero investment costs.»

Jeffrey Hurwitz, Hotel Director

Access to financing


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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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For entrepreneurs to benefit from the value creation of products, they must be able to produce efficiently and operate on international markets. Sustainability standards based on good economic governance avoid grievances such as child labour, the improper use of chemical substances or illegal deforestation.
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SECO advocates sustainable value chains with gold from small-scale mining, where roughly 90 percent of all gold miners work. Small-scale mining provides subsistence for around 100 million people, primarily in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. With simple methods and under dangerous conditions, these miners mine small quantities of gold, which make up for 10 to 20 percent of the global amount.
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SECO has launched a public-private partnership with key players on the Swiss gold market. These include refineries, goldsmiths, watch manufacturers, financial institutions and investors. The Better Gold Initiative helps small mines in Peru, Columbia and Bolivia to produce gold responsibly and export it to Switzerland. Switzerland is a leader in the processing and trading of gold. About two thirds of precious metals mined globally are traded and refined here.
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Voluntary sustainability standards such as Fairtrade Gold, the Alliance for Responsible Mining or the Responsible Jewellery Council are the basis of the initiative. It helps small mines and mining cooperatives improve their technical, organisational, social and ecological conditions and to acquire quality seal certification in the process. The initiative also promotes the political dialogue with the authorities in order to support small-scale mining adapt to sustainability standards.
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Sofia Huasco

Member, Cooperativa San Lucas

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As part of the Better Gold Initiative, buyers on the other side of the value chain have undertaken to buy gold from certified mines. They pay the gold mines a premium for their people and environmentally friendly production. Thus, the initiative funds both social and ecological projects.
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Sofia Huasco

Member, Cooperativa San Luca

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The Better Gold Initiative aims to import around 5 tonnes of gold into Switzerland each year. This enables consumers to buy watches, jewellery, electronic devices and financial products made with responsibly mined gold. The initiative currently supports between five and ten producers in each of the three countries.

Integration in value chains
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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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Companies create jobs, pay wages and taxes, thereby contributing significantly to effective economies and social prosperity. They open up economic opportunities for people, so they do not have to emigrate. Responsible companies provide decent employment opportunities, while increasing the quality of their products and operating more productively.
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More than 60 million people worldwide, predominantly women, work in the textile and clothing industry. Textiles account for 70 percent of all exports in some countries. The SECO-funded Better Work programme helps export firms comply with national labour laws and international labour standards.
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As part of the programme, workers and the factory management take time to understand each other’s needs and decisions and collaborate in order to improve working conditions continuously.  

«We discuss specific opportunities for improvement in regular meetings with management. I see the effort management is making to create a more pleasant and safer workplace.»

Hoang Thi Thuy, Seamstress
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Better Work brings together factory owners, trade unions, governments, and global brands on regional, national and global levels to improve working conditions in supply chains. At the same time, it helps factories to meet the requirements of international buyers in order to compete on the global market.
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Since the start of the programme in 2007 until 2019, Better Work has improved the working conditions of 2.4 million employees in 1’700 factories. In these factories, there are significantly less work accidents and employees work considerably less weekly hours.
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The measures initiated under Better Work improve employee satisfaction. Employees are less likely to be absent from work and will change jobs less frequently. This leads to improved quality of products and increases efficiency. For instance, Better Work factories in Vietnam increased production by 8 to 22 percent and boosted their profits by 25 percent after four years. They were able to increase revenues, generate more customers and create more jobs.
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Better Work was launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The programme is active in Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh, as well as in Egypt, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Haiti, Jordan and Nicaragua.

Corporate Social Responsibility
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Testkapitel 3

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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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A skilled workforce will help companies to grow and create more jobs and economic opportunities, so people do not see themselves forced to emigrate. This is why SECO is involved in the training and further education of skilled workers in higher vocational education.
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Indonesia has become a major player on the world stage. It is the fourth largest population in the world and the 10th largest economy and is a member of the G20. In the years between 1999 and 2016, Indonesia managed to halve the percentage of impoverished people in the overall population to around 11 percent. 28 million Indonesians, however, still live below the poverty line and 40 percent of the population are at risk of falling back into poverty.
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One of the greatest challenges facing Indonesia is the structure of the labour market. On the one hand, 1.7 million young people enter the workforce every year and find there are not enough jobs. On the other hand, the national educational system does not produce enough workers that possess the skills required by the economy. The logical consequence is a shortage of skilled workers.
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In light of this, Indonesian authorities have asked Switzerland for its support. SECO thus launched the project Skills for Competitiveness. Together with the private sector and the authorities, SECO supports five Indonesian technical colleges in the fields of metal, wood and food processing set up a dual vocational education and training system.
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Skills for Competitiveness supports the polytechnics in improving their training programmes. Together with experts from the industry, schools develop new curricula, which ensure that technicians and engineers obtain the skills companies need. The project also aims to reinforce teaching staff capacity. More and improved internships align the training programmes more closely with the needs of the industry. To date, the programme has conducted 85 workshops and trainings with over one hundred partners from the industry, benefiting around 800 students and teachers.
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«I improved my technical skills during an internship in an industrial company. I learned how to tackle problems with a solution-oriented approach and how to take responsibility within a team. And the allowance relieves my parents’ budget!»

Subhan Ali, Student at the Morowali Polytechnic, Central Sulawesi

Market-oriented skills
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Ambassador Raymund Furrer

Head SECO Economic Cooperation and Development

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Multilateral development banks are indispensable partners for Switzerland’s international cooperation. They are broadly positioned and have the necessary expertise, tools and financial resources. They replicate projects on a large scale and support governments in drafting and implementing policies through policy dialogue. Switzerland contributes its expertise and innovative approaches to this effort.
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As a shareholder, Switzerland shapes, together with other countries, the strategic, institutional and operational direction of development banks, including on issues such as capital increases and the multilateral COVID-19 response.
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Switzerland is committed to ensuring that development banks develop, comply with, and improve international environmental, social and governance standards. These globally recognised standards help protect global public goods such as the climate, the environment and water, and foster socially responsible economic development. They also serve as guidelines for drafting national standards.
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The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the World’s poorest countries. Among other things, IDA mobilises private sector investments by mitigating risks. The private sector is key to achieving the sustainable development goals.
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For example, thanks to the cooperation between IDA and the private sector, a hydroelectric power plant can be realised in Nepal. The plant will increase the country’s production of electricity by one third.

The support provided to IDA currently represents Switzerland’s largest financial contribution to a development fund.

Multilateral cooperation
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