Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

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Brief History Country Program Area of Operations Partners
Poverty Focus Distinctive Features Funding Sources



Brief History

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation was established in 1961. It is solely funded and operated by the Swiss Government through the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Since 1966, SDC has had bilateral links with Pakistan that remain active today.   

In Pakistan, SDC’s overall gall is to “effectively strengthen potentials and opportunities with dedicated and professional Pakistani partners in selected areas to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged groups of society”. In the MSE (Micro and Small Enterprises) sector, SDC’s overall goal is “to improve the profitability, competitiveness and the productivity of a better organized MSE sector with a specific focus on women entrepreneurs.”


The development agency has a long-standing experience in supporting microfinance and non-financial services in Pakistan. Key interventions in this field were the Small Scale Enterprise Promotion (SSEP), Community Services Programme (CSP) and the Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Programme (CHIP). SDC also supported the development of microfinance programs run by commercial banks (First Women Bank, Bank of Khyber) and other microfinance providers (Orangi, Kashf, Thardeep), while encouraging the development of a conducive regulatory framework through its partnership with the State Bank of Pakistan.


Country program

In Pakistan SDC concentrates on three basic tenants of development:

  1. Promotion of micro enterprises through finance and vocational education.

  2. Support to sustainable practices regarding the use of natural resources.

  3. Promotion of human rights and education, with emphasis placed upon the education of women and girls.


SDC’s stated objectives in the MSE sector are focused on: 

1)   Financial services

SDC aims to contribute to the development of an appropriate demand-oriented financial services system that provides services to MSEs. It includes three main projects:

(a) Develop human and institutional capacity of all types of microfinance institutions for efficient delivery of microfinance services;

(b) Build the capacity of local expertise providers for increasing the resource base, supporting market oriented approaches; and

(c) Support the creation of enabling environment for the growth of the microfinance sector by promoting and supporting coordination among the stakeholders.


2) Non-financial services:

SDC aims to enhance the entrepreneurial, managerial and technical skills of MSEs through market-based demand, with a specific focus on income generation and organizational-strengthening. It supports entrepreneurship and skills development of women and other disadvantaged groups for income enhancement through traditional craft and self-employment creation.



Area of Operations

SDC operates nationwide but gives a strong focus on the North-West Frontier Province (NWSP) and Northern areas.



SDC works with the following partners:


Poverty Focus

SDC involvement in the MSE sector includes a strong focus on developing the contribution of MSEs to poverty alleviation through market-oriented employment, self-employment and income generation in a sustainable way.


Distinctive Features

SDC takes a systemic approach to poverty alleviation, focusing on a complex interplay of poverty dimensions, it uses a flexible program design combined with a defined benchmarks and monitoring framework.



SDC’s funding commitments to Pakistan equal 14.5 CHF million a year.



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