Interview with HYCON GmbH

Thomas Gross, Renewable Energy & WASH Expert for Switzerland Global Enterprise

HYCON is a Swiss-based company of consultants and engineers focusing on renewable energy, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), land management, protection/inclusion, and GBV (Gender based violence) in the context of development cooperation and humanitarian aid

 Camp in the desert

In which sectors is Hycon active?

The main activities of HYCON are in renewable energy, water supply, protection/inclusion, and GBV (Gender based violence) in the context of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. We therefore serve the most vulnerable people in the world and aim to improve their access to energy and water in a safe manner.

What are the most important export markets and opportunities for your company and why?

The main market is currently Sub-Saharan Africa with countries such as Kenya, the Sahel region (Niger, Burkina Faso), Chad, or Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesia.

What challenges do you face when it comes to developing new business in these regions?

Networks are key. Cold acquisition is always difficult. It is therefore important to know people in the area. Additionally, the fluctuation is rather high in these countries (either due to rotation or the difficulty of the role, meaning that constant maintenance of the contacts is required, which is challenging for an SME.

What (positive or negative) surprises have you already encountered in export? 

The coronavirus pandemic was very difficult for us. While we often received very positive feedback on our proposals, we were still not selected as we could not travel to the respective countries.

A joyful moment was a recent mandate in Central Asia related to the Afghan crisis and its impacts on neighboring countries. Through our network, we were able to contribute at an early stage of this intervention (still at strategic planning) and also had the chance to interact with governmental representatives in Europe and Central Asia.

How has Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) and its cleantech mandate helped you in your international business?

S-GE provides interesting insights and ideas on how and where to develop our business. It focuses less on the day-to-day business, but it broadens our horizons and points out opportunities for the future which is good for strategy development.

How do you view the collaboration with organizations like S-GE, what makes it worthwhile? 

The main and key aspects of this kind of collaboration lie in personal exchange. It helps to see things from a different perspective and provides insights which could be useful in further developing the strategy of an SME. Due to the very specific context HYCON is working in (humanitarian aid and development cooperation), we need to cherry pick relevant projects as S-GE has less focus in these markets.

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