Bengt Carlsson has been living as a businessman in Singapore for almost 30 years. However, he still feels “More Swedish than the Swedes”. Therefore he sees the need for an organization as SVIV Svenskar i Världen (Swedes in the world) to unite and help the Swedish community abroad. Apart from being the representative for Svenskar i Världen in Singapore he manages his own company Tradeimpex.
SVIV – Svenskar i världen is a lobby organisation which is represented in most countries of the world. The organisation works to help the approximately 400.000 Swedes who are living abroad. “SVIV can help Swedish people who come to Singapore to settle down,” Bengt Carlsson explains.
“If you want information about job opportunities, tax rules or how to get an apartment or if you would like to get in contact with other Swedes living in Singapore, you can take part in discussion forums at the web site www.sviv.se. On the web site you can also find links to relevant organisations in Singapore and get access to financial and juridical assistance” he says. The representatives in each country also works as contact persons for SVIV so if you have any further questions, you can always get in contact with Bengt Carlsson who promise to help you or put you in contact with relevant persons or organisations.
SVIV also work to lobby the Swedish government in order to secure the rights for Swedish expatriates. “Thanks to SVIV, Swedish citizens who live abroad can vote for national election in Sweden by postal vote,” says Bengt Carlsson. Another issue SVIV has achieved is to make it possible for Swedish citizens to have an additional citizenship.
However, the organisation does not only work to support the interest of Swedish expatriates. SVIV also works to help Swedish expatriates promote the interest of Sweden. And according to Bengt Carlsson, Swedes who are living and working abroad can do a lot as ambassadors to Sweden.
“We promote Sweden, and we bring in new information and know-how, both to Sweden and the country we live in, he says. Bengt Carlsson’s own business is a good example of this transfer of knowledge. “I have for example brought knowledge about Swedish wood technology and furniture to Singapore, as well as I have trained my staff in Asia,” he says.
Bengt Carlsson came to Singapore 28 years ago to set up the company Casco Asia in ten countries in Southeast Asia. Building up companies in Asia was not an easy thing to do at that time, when corruption was an even bigger problem than today. “But I managed to set up these companies without paying one single dollar under the table. I am proud of that. You can be clean in this part of the world also,” he says, “But to be honest, it is not always the fastest way to run a business.”
Today the business climate in Singapore and Asia has changed. “People are much more professional. When we came there were more often money under the table requested, people bluffing, and deliveries were often wrong. It was a bit of a jungle. Today I would not worry about anything starting a business in Singapore today, ” he says. He has today retired from Casco Asia and devotes his time to Tradeimpex and SVIV.
The almost 30 years outside his mother country has not diminished Bengt Carlssons’s sense of where he belongs. “My home is where I live in Singapore. But being Swedish is still a very important part of my identity. It is very important to have roots.” In order to nurse these Swedish roots he spends every midsummer and Christmas in Sweden. “Even thought I hate the cold,” he says. This attachment to his native country is something he shares with other Swedish expatriates. “Swedish people living outside Sweden are often more Swedish than the Swedes in Sweden,” he says.
For more information about SVIV see www.sviv.se
For more information about tradeimpex see www.tradeimpec-sea.com