Great things spring from modest beginnings: SWISSAID has worked for more than 60 years providing aid to encourage self-help. The organisation was previously known as "Schweizer Auslandhilfe" in war-torn Europe. From the 1960s, as SWISSAID it has managed projects in southern hemisphere countries.

“Schweizer Spende” – the agency providing emergency aid in war-ravaged Europe – is renamed “Schweizer Europahilfe” (SEH) – an umbrella organisation for the “Schweizer Hilfswerke” active back then.

The SEH not only carries out coordination work and procures funding, but also manages its own campaigns in West Germany and Austria. The concept of “self-help” emerges for the first time.

Activities in West Germany are wound up. New projects are funded in Greece. At the SEH’s General Meeting, members agree in future “to include in its mandate campaigns to help areas in need in other regions of the world”. Thus, development aid is recognised as a new area of activity. Consequently, the organisation is renamed “Schweizer Auslandhilfe” (SAH).

The SAH’s initial projects in India mark the real beginning of development aid. Loosely cooperating with a Swiss national living abroad in India, the SAH supports irrigation systems, rural training centres and the rehabilitation of leprosy sufferers.

The SAH starts work in Chad.

The “Schweizer Auslandhilfe” is renamed – to make its mission clearer – SWISSAID.

To educate the Swiss population more effectively about development aid and poverty, SWISSAID joins forces with “Bread For All”, “Fastenopfer” and “Helvetas” to form a consortium today known as “Alliance Sud”.

In the same year, SWISSAID gains a foothold for the first time in Latin America. From Ecuador, the relief organisation initiates projects in Colombia before the country gains its own office in 1983.

After 24 years, Heinrich Fischer retires as SWISSAID’s Secretary-General. His successor is Ernst W. Schnellmann. He worked for SWISSAID from 1948 and had a key influence on the organisation’s development and overall attitude.

SWISSAID sets up an office for women’s affairs. 

SWISSAID is transformed from an association to a foundation independent of religious or party political affiliations with a mission to “promote the solidarity of the Swiss population with the world’s disadvantaged people.”

In Lausanne, a branch office of SWISSAID’s headquarters opens.

The SWISSAID team adopts a more political tone and sets up an “agriculture and environment” information office. 

SWISSAID commences work in Myanmar (Burma) or, initially, in the area bordering Thailand.

The Max Havelaar foundation is established. SWISSAID plays a substantial role.

SWISSAID undertakes to provide “development aid from the inside out and the bottom up”, so those concerned take the initiative and are themselves in control.

SWISSAID marks its 50th anniversary, including a celebration in the hall of the Swiss National Council. 

SWISSAID’s subsidiary office in India is the first to be “decentralised”, thus largely self-determining which projects will be carried out. Local professional managers are in charge of all SWISSAID offices.

SWISSAID celebrates its 60th anniversary. At the festivities in Bern town hall, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey praised the organisation’s work.

SWISSAID obtained the licence in India to found the non-profit “Aid for social change and welfare organisation”. This means that local fundraising is now also possible.