The Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM) is the development finance institution of the Swiss Confederation and a cornerstone of Swiss development cooperation. The purpose and basic mandate are described in the Ordinance on International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid as well as in the Ordinance on Cooperation with the States of Eastern Europe. SIFEM was established in 2005 and took over the investment portfolio of SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) which had been built up since the late 1990s.
Federal government as sole shareholder
SIFEM AG is a private limited company, the shares of which are 100% owned by the federal government. The shareholder rights are exercised by the Federal Council. It defines the strategic objectives for a four-year period. SIFEM is an independent institution in terms of its organisation and management of its business and maintains its own account. The seven-member supervisory board is responsible for implementing the strategic objectives and reporting to the parliamentary oversight bodies. It also takes the investment decisions which are based on publicly accessible guidelines and objectives.
Fund management by Obviam
The fund management and portfolio management functions were outsourced to the specialized investment adviser Obviam in 2011 with the consent of the Swiss Federal Council. This outsourcing serves to ensure professionalism on the one hand, but also facilitates the mobilization of private capital for joint investment projects without any liability risks arising for the Swiss Confederation.
Fund supervision by SECO
Acting on behalf of the federal government, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) remains in close contact with the SIFEM supervisory board and Obviam. It conducts regular financial control discussions and portfolio review meetings. The guidelines governing financial control and risk management as well as multi-level supervision ensure that the fund is invested fully in line with its remit and that federal funds are used purposefully.