SACC Perth teamed up with H&M for a Sustainable Business event in May 2018

In 1947, the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company H&M opened its first store in Västerås, Sweden. Sixty-seven years later, their doors opened for the first time on the Australian continent. Being a global fashion brand in one of the biggest industries in the world comes with a lot of responsibility in terms of sustainability. On H&M’s website, the company acknowledges that the fashion industry uses more resources than the planet allows. In the work towards a more sustainable future, the company introduced a garment collecting initiative in 2013 called Closing the Loop. The program encourages customers to bring in their old items to H&M stores for them to be recycled, reused or re-worn, giving garments a 100% circular lifetime. Since initiating the program, the company has collected more than 55,000 tonnes of garments. Read more about the impressive work on H&M’s website: Thank you very much for hosting our Sustainable Business networking event on May 16 in Perth @hmaustralia.


SACC Perth WA – Strengthening business ties

Figge Boksjo says Swedish business values are well respected.

Photo: Attila Csaszar Strengthening business ties

Author: Matt Mckenzie

Published: Wednesday, 21 March, 2018

Two new business groups plan to strengthen Western Australia’s economic links with innovative overseas economies, with the Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce and WA Singapore Business Connect opening Perth chapters.

Figge Boksjo, who is chair of the WA branch of the Swedish Chamber, told Business News the organisation would join with the local embassy and trade council to enable and engage Swedish-Australian businesses.

It is the third Swedish business chapter in Australia, joining a branch in Melbourne and the original in Sydney, which has operated for more than a century.

Some of the best-known members of the WA chapter, which opened earlier this month, are homewares retailer Ikea, fashion store H&M, carmaker Volvo and conglomerate Saab, Mr Boksjo said.

More than any one company, however, there was an overarching theme about the way the country did business, he said.

“Being Swedish, most of them tap into Swedish business ethics and the values Swedes are hopefully famous for,” Mr Boksjo said.

Those included diversity, non-discrimination and sustainability, while he said Bloomberg had ranked Sweden as the world’s second most innovative nation.

WA Singapore Business Connect will have a distinctive advantage when it launches next month, according to vice-president Henry Heng.

“The most Singaporeans living outside Singapore are actually in Perth,” Mr Heng told Business News.

Singapore was also one of the state’s largest trading partners, he said, with WA retaining a trade office in that country.

“There is a lot of opportunity to build on Singaporean relations,” Mr Heng said.

However, existing international business chambers (see list) have not been immune to the impact of the state’s economic downturn.

For the American Chamber of Commerce, the focus has been on diversifying its offering, including through an office move, according to general manager WA Penelope Williamson.

“It has been very hard to keep people as members throughout the downturn,” Ms Williamson told Business News.

She said the chamber had taken a new facility at 44 St Georges Terrace, with an expanded space including a members’ lounge.

That will be available for members, particularly from smaller, suburban business, to use for meetings.

One key program for the association’s 284 members was a series of three trade missions, including sending delegations to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, which it has done now for 20 years.

At the Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce, membership softened a bit during the downturn according to treasurer Dennis Yagmich, although there is real interest from Croatia’s business and political community to expand ties overseas.

While trade delegations are among the offerings available to members of the Croatian chamber, it participates in an annual T20 cricket competition in Croatia, run by members.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Business Association WA president Matthew Clarke said his network had grown in the past four years despite the downturn, reaching around 120 members.

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James Letherbarrow and Anna Alvsdotter have recently been appointed as the new Honorary Consul General of Sweden and Honorary Vice Consul, respectively.

I caught up with both of them at Fika in Manly to discuss their new roles and what we in the Swedish community should know and can expect from them.

Tell us a bit about your backgrounds?

Anna:  I am a freelance journalist and copywriter, living in Australia since 2003. I lived in New Zealand for 10 years, and with stints in England, Belgium and Spain before that. I grew up in Malmö, but Manly is my home now.

James: I’m an accountant by background, and have historically worked as a CFO and HR Director for media/public relations companies. My family has had a long association with Sweden, as my father Roger held the position as Honorary Consul for the last 10 years. Roger used to work for Volvo Australia as in-house counsel and lived in Gothenburg back in 1987. My sister and I stayed in Sydney for our schooling, but we’ve been to Sweden many times, and have enjoyed many Swedish connections over the years.

What do you do as Consuls?

James: We act as Sweden’s official representatives in NSW, with directions from the Embassy in Canberra. We assist business and cultural exchanges and we manage the staff at our office in Cremorne, which handles many enquiries, including visas and passports (to name a few), for both Swedes travelling and living in Australia plus people wanting to move to Sweden.

Anna: Another important aspect of the job is to assist individuals when problems occur, such as deaths, accidents, and crimes. This part of the job is not very visible, and can take up a lot of time.

Do you get paid?

James: No Anna and I do not get paid, our appointments are honorary positions. The Consulate is partially subsidised by the Swedish Embassy in Canberra, which helps provide for office rent and the consulate staff in addition to the revenue we earn as fees (in providing some of our services).

Anna: It’s essentially a time commitment, which we are happy and proud to give.

How did you get the gig?

James: I got to know the Ambassador Pär Ahlberger when my father was awarded an Order of the Polar Star in Stockholm a few years ago. We stayed in touch, and when my father decided to retire, I was very honoured to be asked to take on the appointment.

Anna:  I have been involved with the Swedish community and the Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) on a paid as well as on a voluntary basis for some time. I feel it’s a great honour and privilege to be asked.

How would you like to engage with the Swedish community?

Anna: We are helping the Embassy with events such as the Raoul Wallenberg exhibition in 2019, and we will keep supporting community organisations such as SACC and SiS, and be of any assistance to Swedes in need.

James: Anna and I have spoken about how we can engage more with the community, which is something we really want to do.  We want to get to know more of the Swedes living permanently in Sydney, and also to be there when Swedes get into trouble, which happens at times unfortunately. As an example, I can remember when my father made weekly visits to young Swedes in prison and hospitals on many occasions, because he wanted to help people in trouble. It consumed a lot of time, and he didn’t have to do it, and yet he got a lot of satisfaction from it. I would like to emulate that.

Any special messages to the Swedes in Sydney and NSW?

James: As I said earlier, we really want to engage with the Swedish community. Let us know when functions or events are on, and if we have the time, we will participate. For example, we both plan to go to the ABBA Festival in Trundle in May. (Editor’s note: And put your events in the Calendar at!)

And if you end up having some serious problem, let us know. While we may not be able to help directly, we can hopefully point you in the right direction for assistance.

Anna: Yes, let us know about your events. James and I look forward to being of service to the Swedish community and to help promoting Swedish business and culture  here in NSW.

A big “Tack” to Anna and James.

It was a pleasure to have a chat over coffee and cinnamon buns at Fika, and I hope this blog has been useful to our subscribers! All comments and feedback welcome.

Johan Hedström, SACC Board Member

SWEDELINK Newsletter Autumn 2018

The legacy of leaving nothing to no one – Vale Ingvar Kamprad

The news of the passing of Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea this week sent lovers of the furniture super stores into mourning. But the realisation that that one of the world’s wealthiest people had passed away also had those in the legal fraternity around the world looking into the realities of inter-generational wealth transfer.

The concept of passing wealth from one generation to the next, or the wider family should seem like a simple matter. A will, along side some slightly more complex structures generally form an overall plan. However the reality of wealth means the complexities of succession planning generally increase the greater the wealth is. Not only in structure, but in demand by the beneficiaries.

So when we hear in this article from Bloomberg, that the 91-year old Swedish ‘father of flat pack’ removed control of the world-wide furniture behemoth out of his family’s reach, we suddenly have visions of a long line of lawyers queuing up to represent the family.

In Australia, the concept of inter-generational wealth transfer is one that seems to be under-rated by many. The simple conversation between parents, and often adult children can, in more cases than not, resolve any burning issues well before death. But even a will and a solid fireside chat with your folks may not result in a clear cut resolution to the estate. As we all know, emotions are a driving force in many estate-related disputes. And emotions can be at their highest when a wealthy loved one has passed.

As a financial adviser, I hear far too often that “I’ll leave that to them [my children] to sort it out”, when faced with the question of their succession planning. This lack of care, or even emotional detachment, from the transfer of wealth may seem frivolous, but is it more a reflection of reality than naïvity? In other words, “why should I tell them what to do with my wealth when I won’t need it, and they’re just going to fight over it anyway?” The general result being that the deceased chooses not to air their personal wishes for fear of upsetting someone while they are still alive, and the estate ends up in mediation or other legal proceedings to find a resolution.

This lack of care, or even emotional detachment, from the transfer of wealth may seem frivolous, but is it more a reflection of reality than naïvity?

Ingvar Kamprad’s choice to place Ikea in the hands of an independent foundation ensures the business continues to grow and thrive, no longer as a Kamprad family-controlled company, means that Ingvar became a realist many years ago. He removed the opportunity for his family or others to squabble of his fortune, and instead ensured the longevity of his other ‘baby’ for many years to come.

For once emotions come into consideration, the conversation changes to how many generations it takes to dispose of most family wealth. While a story for a different day, some say one generation can ruin it all. Others are a little more forgiving, suggesting it takes two generations to stuff it up. Data has shown that 90% of family wealth is often gone after three generations.

So put out your allen keys and celebrate the life of the founder of your Billy bookcase, knowing that Ingvar Kamprad’s legacy means that your children, and even your grandchildren will one day kit out their first, and perhaps also their last home with the same furniture that you did when you were young. And while you are enjoying another glass of wine and screwing together yet another shelving pack, invite the family over for an ‘Ikea party’ and have a chat about what they want, and expect from their wealth once they have gone.

Robert Carson, SACC Melbourne Board Member

A Sydney young professionals adventure from Nordkapp to Sälen has begun

Imagine temperatures down to minus 40 degrees, while battling strong winds and having a minimum of one to two hours of day light. It is only you and the white landscapes as far as the eye can reach.

The 1st of February 2018 is the start of a challenging 2000km solo ski adventure, that I will embark on. The journey begins at the most northern part of Europe North Cape (Nordkapp) continuing down to Sälen in Sweden.

My name is Gina Johansen, I am a twenty-six years old Swedish female and YP member of SACC, who has been living and working in Sydney since October 2010. I have a strong background in Equestrian and as a result have been working in the horse racing industry as a track rider at Royal Randwick for seven years. However my true passion lies in outdoor adventure.

First, let me briefly talk you through where this idea came from and then how I intend on doing this. For many years the Australian Ultra Marathon runner Pat Farmer has inspired me. Pat has some truly amazing stories of endurance and testing his strength. Carrying out expeditions and runs from the North to the South Pole without so much as a day off! He has also participated in runs around and across Australia while also completing many other marathons through out various countries all over the world, all while raising millions of dollar to people in need. Given my passion for running and love for the outdoors it seemed a perfect fit, this is what I want to do. Challenge my mind and body on a new and completely audacious level.

I want to challenge myself in a new way. Cycling to Cairns from Sydney was the most recent challenge I have completed. Along with my boyfriend we cycled 2700km through some of the harshest and most spectacular landscape I have ever seen. Previous to that I have completed running races in the mountains and love how running tests my body and mind. I often visit the Blue Mountains mainly to run the various trail tracks that are located there. As I have experienced these two types of adventures with specific rigorous training I have now started looking into new types of adventures. Skiing is a type of physical exertion that my body can handle. The impact and stress is not unfamiliar to that of a marathon runner and while I enjoyed the cycle to Cairns I wanted a new adventure.

The reason I have chosen Nordkapp to Sälen not only for the physical challenge but also for its location. Remote places where not many people travel to are ideal locations for me. They always have my attention for it’s untouched beauty, but I also have a curious mind and want to explore life in the northern parts of Scandinavia. To learn more about the Indigenous; the Sami people and of course experience the northern light. Because of these curiosities and the locations natural charm I further researched and found out about the Nordkapp to Sälen, I will be the first person to ski this distance.

Without any previous experience skiing or camping in the winter time it has been a lot to learn, I have been lucky to have Pat Farmer and Niclas Bentzler, from deluxe turer in Sweden helping me. Sharing knowledge and passing on advice especially with regards to he equipment and gear I will need. They’ve also help a lot with the planning of the adventure.

Recently Pat and I altered my training reigme so it is much more specific for the task at hand. I have spent many hours down at Maroubra beach and Mutch park with my tyre that I drag (simulating a slead). Training usually 2-3 hours per day and this is done 6 days a week.

I will do my adventure unassisted which means I have to drag a sledge with all the necessary equipment and food. Progression through training has been tough but rewarding, the first day I trained with the tyre together with Pat farmer we had a problem with our harnesses; it was painful and uncomfortable to drag the tyre. Pat told me that morning “ It’s important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable” these are very powerful words that have stayed with me through out training and words that will stay with me while I complete my adventure.

It will be a very challenging adventure not only physically but also mentally. Did I mention that I’m afraid of the dark?! With only 1-2 hours of daylight the first couple of weeks of the trip I’m sure this will be something I fast over come!

I am also very curious how it is to be out there on my own every day, this is an aspect that continues to drive and intrigue me. This is something not many people will ever experience. The first 450 km of my trip is very remote and chances of seeing other people there is very slim. I have to navigate myself through Norway and Finland. Once I reach Sweden at Treriksröset I can follow marked scooter and skiing tracks.

I want to inspire young people to follow their dreams. With hard work and dedication the things that sounds impossible become possible. I also hope I can inspire more women to be more adventurous and inspire them to take on their own challenge. If that is to run a race, or go on a cycling holiday or just go hiking and explore new places or maybe something as crazy as I will do.

A lot of people ask me if I will raise money for a charity and I want to do that. But Pat told me to get everything else organised before I thinking about a charity. It has been a lot of work and there is still a lot of work to be done before the expedition. I still have to make my mind up if I will raise money for a charity or just do it to inspire young people and women. It would be fun to raise money for children and teenagers in Sweden that have families that can’t afford a little summer holiday. Maybe I can raise money so these children/ teenagers can go on their own little adventure together with their parents or on a summer camp with friends. I would prefer a smaller and more personal charity and something that has to do with Sweden as I spend most time of this expedition in Sweden. If you have any suggestions please reach out to me.

You can follow my journey on my blog that is linked on my website and on my Instagram you can follow my daily photos from training and preparation.

It will be difficult to update during my expedition but I will carry an in reach with me that allows me to make short blog updates and send messages to couple of people. The extreme cold weather effects the batteries and with only 1-2 hours of daylight I can’t use a solar panel, my only option will be a lot of batteries that I need to carry inside my jacket to keep warm.

To make this trip happen I need as much help as I can get. Do you know someone that I should get in touch with, or maybe you are the person I should get in touch with. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

  • Photographer in Sweden preferably up north who can help to take photos in January before the trip and somebody who would like to take photos during the trip at a suitable location. Here is my route. Doesn’t necessary has to be an processional photographer. Somebody with a camera and some good skills and love for photographing will be perfect for this.
  • Contacts in Alta, north Sweden or other location at Finnmarksvidda . I will need somewhere to stay for about 2 weeks before I set off to get my final training done and test all my gears.
  • Do you know anyone who would like to come for a road trip up to Nordkapp?
  • I’m looking for more partners to join me on this trip. Do you have a company and would like to be a part of this adventure. Please contact me to discuss this further or maybe you know somebody who works in the outdoor industry who can help me.
  • Contacts of people who work in media either for a news magazine, radio station or TV who maybe would be interested in following my expedition.

Thanks for reading

// Gina Johansen x

SWEDELINK Newsletter Summer 2017-2018

Swedish Business in Australia Awards 2017

The finalists and winners of this year’s Awards were presented at the Chamber’s Annual Christmas Dinner 23 November 2017, at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, in front of business leaders, colleagues and friends of Swedish Australian businesses.

The event attracted 180 members and guests from the Swedish Australian business community and the evening included a beautiful Swedish Lucia performance by children from the Swedish School in Sydney, a special welcome by guest of honour HE Mr Pär Ahlberger Ambassador of Sweden to Australia, an amazing Swedish Christmas buffet,
 presentation by guest speaker Mr Nick Kaye, CEO Sydney School of Entrepreneurship and the announcement of the 2017 Swedish Business in Australia award winners. The event offers an excellent opportunity for companies large and small to promote their company or services to a discerning audience, develop the Swedish connections and invite clients and employees to a Christmas event with special insight into Swedish culture and traditions.

The winners of the 2017 awards are:

Excellence in Business Enterprise – HUSQVARNA GROUP


Excellence in Innovation – COREDINATION


Excellence in Small Business – FIKA SWEDISH KITCHEN

Young Business Executive/Young Entrepreneur – NIKLAS OLSSON FOUNDER OF BALTO & PREMONITION


A special thank you goes to the company sponsors for the evening.







Marriage Equality – An opportunity to strengthen the social bonds between Australia and Sweden

In 2009, laws to adopt ‘gender-neutral’ marriages were passed by the Swedish Parliament, making Sweden just the seventh country in the world to pass laws to allow all couples, regardless of gender, to marry. This moment in Sweden’s history reflected how most of Sweden already felt about the formal union of same-sex couples.  This move was a reflection of the social fabric of Swedish culture; a culture of acceptance and equality.

The Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce celebrates diversity and equality among our members, many of whom resided in Sweden during the time of the change to Swedish law.  We are now hopeful of a further opportunity to strengthen the social bonds between Sweden and Australia.  

Through the Same-Sex Marriage postal survey, Australians have the opportunity to bring Australian laws broadly in line with those in Sweden, and more than two-dozen other countries around the world.  The Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce proudly supports marriage equality, and looks forward to celebrating our two countries shared values.

An exciting evening at the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship for SACC Seminar about Entrepreneurship & Innovation

On Wednesday 4 October SACC organised a business seminar at the newly opened Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), led by their distinguished CEO Nick Kaye. With a list of highly experienced panelist invited, we had high hopes for the evening, which we believed were exceeded by far. The panelists were;

  • Dr. Leila Alem, Entrepreneur, Digital innovator, Scientist & Speaker
  • Nick Kaye, CEO of Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE)
  • Professor Michael Nilsson, Director Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle
  • Charlie Macdonald, CIO Schenker Australia Pty Ltd
  • Paul Illmer, VP Sales Strategy and Support, Volvo Group Australia
  • Per Edwards, CEO Coredination, Strategist, Marketer, Serial Entrepreneur & Innovator

Although the seminar ran mid-week during the school holidays we had a full crowd in the inspirational venue of the SSE. With the room set-up as a square, where everyone faced inwards and at all times saw all faces in the room, it created an engaging environment which got all attendees involved in the interesting topic discussion.

Mikael Dahlgren (Alfa Laval & Director of the SACC board) welcomed us to the event and introduced Nick Kaye who gave us a short intro and background about the SSE. Then the former Swedish Trade Commissioner turned start-up founder with KingHill Pty Ltd., Jonas Lindholm moderated the session during the evening. During the evening the panelists and the audience went on a journey touching subjects as varying as gender equality, drones changing the way of stocktaking at DB Schenker, the Government´s role in fostering innovation, what Australia is doing right and what could be improved, how to attract and incentivise the right people in the future all in a high-paced and fun manner.

Without summarising the whole discussion some of the key points were;

  • The Australian debate on the subject tends to focus on the negative aspects (low ranking in OECD on the rate of commercialisation of innovations) rather than acknowledge the positive side (for example the innovation rate is high and that some segments really are world class).
  • The Swedish Government´s social security system has traditionally meant less risk for Swedish entrepreneurs to try their wings than the system here. Both Australia and Sweden could arguably learn from the Silicon Valley, where failed start-up attempts are regarded as prerequisite for a successful entrepreneur.
  • Large companies are slow and global governance models are very strict – yet most innovations seem to come from people daring the norm of their times and stepping outside current regulations. This is a key challenge to solve for international giants.
  • If you are an innovative person and/or SME and would like to work with the large companies, it is important to understand that they are typical neither fast, agile nor flexible – but will have a lot of resources to push for the right solution if given proper time and in the right manner (i.e. governance model again…).
  • There is no secret formula or one model that fits all – but you need people with courage who dare to try something new to create innovation.

The evening ended with networking drinks where discussions on the subject continued and all seemed to have enjoyed the format of the discussion. If you have ideas for focus & topics for future SACC seminars please contact us! Thanks to SSE, the panelists and moderator and everyone how attended to make this a great evening!