Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)

Swiss Private Sector Development

SDC and SECO are two agencies within the Swiss Government, engaged in overseas development; they have collaborated to publish a Report on Effectiveness of SDC and SECO (2017), focusing on the topic of employment and covering more than 70 interventions around the world implemented between 2005 and 2014. The goal of the independent report is to inform the public and politicians about the extent to which the objectives of SDC and SECO have been achieved and which factors have contributed to the achievement. There are also a summary document and an information video. The other activities of the two agencies are outlined below.


The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) is Switzerland’s international cooperation agency within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). In operating with other federal offices concerned, SDC is responsible for the overall coordination of development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as for the humanitarian aid delivered by the Swiss Confederation.

Private sector development (PSD) policy and strategy

SDC states that economic development is the basis of a country’s development and therefore the means by which poverty can be overcome. The private sector is the most important driving force in the move to create jobs and income opportunities. Switzerland assists its partner countries to establish structural conditions that are favourable to stable economic growth and to the unleashing of the potential of the private sector.

Partnership mechanisms for the private sector

SDC intends to enter into partnerships with private companies because it wishes to promote effective action that has a lasting effect and helps to achieve development goals; the private sector with its resources and its competence has an important part to play in development.

Transparency, effectiveness and results in PSD

The work of SDC is subject to systematic critical evaluation, the aim of which is to assess the effectiveness of its projects and strategies. To capitalise on its experience and improve its development programmes and projects, SDC evaluates the effectiveness of its activities critically and systematically.


The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) is the federal government’s centre for all core issues relating to economic and labour market policy. As part of this role, SECO’s Economic Cooperation and Development Division aims to support the integration of developing countries and Eastern European transition countries into the world economy. SECO also coordinates the relationships between Switzerland and the Work Bank Group, the economic development banks and the economic organisations of the United Nations. SECO’s priority themes are as follows: Economic and financial policy, urban infrastructure and utilities, private sector and entrepreneurship, sustainable trade and climate friendly growth. Gender equality and economic governance are cross-cutting themes.

Private sector development (PSD) policy and strategy

Private sector development is one of thematic focus areas of SECO – through private sector partnerships and other approaches. Private sector development comprises three main components: Improving the business environment, providing access to long-term investment capital, and improving entrepreneurial skills. Green Growth and employment promotion have become a strong cross- cutting priorities.

As part of the focus on long-term investment capital, impact investing is developing into an important area of activity. For example, SECO supports the Swiss Sustainable Finance Platform, has invested into impact investment funds (for more info click here) and has supported the publication of a guide for Swiss family-owned businesses on impact investing.

The video below gives a short introduction to a SECO entrepreneurship programme in Peru:

SECO 17 – Support to Investments for Development through Technical Assistance

Sustainable Development Goal 17 aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. SECO 17 is an initiative to put this into practice, partnering with the private sector to facilitate and support Investments for Development vehicles. The call for proposals has now closed, and awards have been made.