Development of microeconomic framework conditions, private sector development and income generation are intersecting with various other objectives: with the provision of socio-economic infrastructure by public authorities (roads, markets, water supply) and the delivery of other public services, with access to and sustainable utilization of natural resources (land, water, forests), with agricultural value chains and agro-industrial development, etc. Given that many intervention zones are in rural areas where agriculture still constitutes the main income generating activity, many local economic development initiatives work indeed on both enhancement of framework conditions by public authorities and support to value chain promotion by small scale farmers, transforming cooperatives and agro-industrial enterprises. An optimized utilization of resources can foster households' accumulation of private capital, which again is the prerequisite for small-scale enterprises, nutritional security and sustainable livelihoods.
Investing in education means paving the way for economic development. Despite impressive efforts in this direction many countries still miss out on a considerable potential for self-determined development, suffering from the low level of education in large parts of their populations. Cooperation in education means supporting the partner countries in the development of educational systems. In order to provide educational services and to make them accessible to all children, young people and illiterate adults (Leave no one behind, LNOB approach), development cooperation currently focusses on basic education (including alphabetisation) and TVET, but also intervenes in secondary and tertiary education.
ECO provides assistance to municipalities in creating framework conditions that are favourable to local private sector development. Efforts in this direction are always made in close consultation with all socio-economic stakeholders on the municipal territory in order to ensure that all interests are being taken into account and that local economic development be inclusive.
Support to economic stakeholders and their associations addresses the development and strengthening of value chains in all economic sectors, with a focus on agriculture and agro-food industry, forest and non-forest products, and farming. ECO furthermore assists (young) entrepreneurs in building up or professionalising their business in (often highly innovative) sectors such as renewable energies, agricultural consulting services, maintenance of agricultural machines, wells and other technical equipment, etc.
Projects for economic development are always combined with capacity building measures – either at a small scale through training and coaching for target groups, or at an institutionalised level through TVET measures (initial and further training). ECO offers advice to relevant ministries and to training institutions for the development of training programmes and curricula and their implementation.
We conceive „education for all“ and „life-long learning“ in the sense of a holistic approach of „human resources development“ (HRD). Alongside formal education at basic, secondary, tertiary level and TVET, this includes also non-formal basic education and all kinds of shaping practical skills, capacitating people who are already in the working process, and all intersecting activities.