A survey on the experiences of Swiss NGOs

In the light of a growing number of natural disasters on the one hand and an increasing funding gap on the other hand, humanitarian actors are looking for possibilities to find new ways to in-crease funding and to enhance the efficiency of humanitarian aid. It is generally acknowledged that the private sector plays an important role in this context. Core humanitarian actors at the international level have, therefore, embarked on a process of reconsidering their strategies to involve the private sector in their activities.

In this thesis, the issue is addressed from the perspective of Swiss NGOs. As no systematic data on the current level of private sector engagement in the humanitarian programs of Swiss NGOs exists, a survey among nine NGOs was conducted. The current patterns of cooperation and the considerations of the NGOs at the strategic and operational level along the whole disaster management cycle were ascertained. The results of the survey confirm that most of the included NGOs are aware of the current debate. However, the priority given to the issue and the practical experiences strongly differ within the sample. While the NGOs are generally open towards the involvement of the private sector, they are still struggling to define common grounds and to identify win-win-situations that could provide the basis for promising forms of cooperation that go beyond donor or supplier roles of the private actor. This is particularly true for disaster response.

Against the background of increasing pressure on Swiss NGOs to work efficiently, it is recommended that the NGOs assume a more strategic approach towards cooperation with the private sector, aiming for forms of cooperation on the basis of mutually beneficial business rationales. Given that Switzerland has very innovative and globally interconnected enterprises, Swiss NGOs might be in a privileged position to exploit the existing potentials and to strengthen their position in an increasingly competitive international humanitarian market.

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