Migros aid fund: Reaching out across frontiers for 30 years

A workshop for carpentry apprentices in Brazil, a centre of competence for goat-breeding in Bergell, electricity for villagers in Madagascar, flood protection in the Grisons Oberland, medical care for mothers in Tanzania ... the Migros aid fund is helping people all over the world to help themselves – and in 2009 celebrated its 30th birthday.

Since it was founded in 1979, the Migros aid fund has been supporting social and ecological projects in Switzerland and abroad, in Europe and overseas. Each year, CHF 1 million is available for this purpose. This means that, since the fund was set up, CHF 30 million has been distributed. By taking this action to provide lasting help for people in need, Migros is remaining true to the vision of its founder Gottlieb Duttweiler.  

In 2009, 21 projects received financial support. Among them were the Winterthur-based a:primo  association, which received CHF 50'000 to set up the schritt:weise programme. Schritt:weise is a promising initiative aimed at creating equal opportunities for children with a migrant background.
Another unique initiative is Melanie Meichle’s Manjushri project. «I've never dealt with such a young, committed person,» says Regula Wolf of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. Meichle, who is from Rüfenacht in the canton of Berne, is 24 years old and has founded a school in Kathmandu (Nepal) for the Tibetan exile community. The Manjushri Association received a donation of CHF 70,000 for this purpose in 2009.

When the aid fund was set up in 1979, a ballot was held in which 69% of the cooperative members voted in favour of the fund, on the express condition that it was not to be financed from Migros Culture Percentage. The organisation has since remained unchanged. Each year, seven delegates examine projects submitted by recognised aid organisations and select the ones that they wish to support. The inaugural meeting of the «Aid Fund» working group took place on 24 June 1981, and the first project to receive funding was in a country a long way from Switzerland. The initiative in question was aimed at supporting women in Cameroon, and the money was used to train local animators to give advice on hygiene (the correct way to breastfeed, for instance) and nutrition (growing and using vegetables) to other women living in rural areas.

The idea at the heart of all the projects selected is to help people to help themselves. The projects usually receive start-up financing of between CHF 40,000 and CHF 100,000 to this end.

Although it is never possible to meet all requests for funding, money from the Migros aid fund has, for 30 years now, been a great help for disadvantaged people whose plight is too often forgotten. Thanks, Dutti!