About 300 people gathered yesterday afternoon at the Technopark Zürich for Swisscontact’s annual event. Thomas Bergen, co-founder and CEO of get Abstract and a member of the Swisscontact Board of Trustees, welcomed the guests. He emphasized that “Swisscontact helps more people to get those opportunities given to me already from birth in Switzerland.”
Living values and meeting challenges
Swiss businesswoman Carolina Müller-Möhl spoke of the important role played by personal responsibility. People in business have a special role to play in social and economic development. Ethics and values form the basis of any activity.
Whether fish-farming or an SME platform: both are economic drivers
A young businessman and businesswoman gave insights into their enterprises. David Olyabo built a successful fish farm in Uganda together with 13 friends, in so doing he opened up new economic opportunities: “There are very few jobs in Uganda. As an entrepreneur, you have to take risks, but it’s worth it.” The group laid out the principles for founding and managing a company in a programme implemented by Swisscontact and financed by the Mastercard Foundation.
With Bizbook, Erna Šoševic developed an online platform that links innovative companies in Bosnia and Hercegovina with each other. “Bizbook is not simply a company. Bizbook is the hope for a better economic future for the country,” is how she summarizes her motivation as a businesswoman.
The initial situations of these young people differ substantially from each other. David Olyabo decided to modernize traditional fish farming. He benefited from the fact that the Ugandan government supports such businesses, and Swisscontact played an important role as a facilitator. Erna Šoševic jumped into the complicated, fast-moving digital world. She tried in vain to secure state funding and ultimately had to rely on private capital.
Targeted and sustainable
The environment, legal frameworks, and local regulations help determine the success or failure of entrepreneurs. Therefore, collaboration between the private sector and government institutions is highly important. Only together can they achieve long-term and sustainable economic development. Ambassador Thomas Gass from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) articulated the following during the podium discussion: “We must understand that sustainability is not a condition. Sustainability is a path, the recognition that we must all come together.”
Heinrich M. Lanz, Swisscontact CEO, emphasized the importance of cooperation and linking the public and private sectors, and that organisations such as Swisscontact can make important contributions. Strong entrepreneurship remains key for Swisscontact. “Courageous, dedicated entrepreneurs are not only economic drivers. They are important to the social and environmental development of their countries as torchbearers of hope and examples,” said Lanz.