Marisa Steyn

Expat Entrepreneur: Marisa Steyn in Biel-Benken

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In this new series of Expatica interviews, expat entrepreneur Marisa Steyn shares her experiences of setting up a business in Switzerland, bringing functional South African art to the country where the very best is expected.

Name: Marisa Steyn
Nationality: South African
City of residence:
Name of company: The Secret Baobab
Date of company launch: March 2010

Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
The Secret Baobab is a distributor of functional art from South Africa. We started off with two South African design legends, Carrol Boyes Functional Art and Zenzulu.

What do you like about doing business in your country of residence?
So far doing business in Switzerland has been pretty seamless from a regulatory point of view. The support we have received from the Swiss and expat community is amazing.

What do you find most frustrating about doing business in your country of residence?
Language causes a bit of frustration, but again with Swiss friends and technology, this can be managed. I miss my business network in South Africa.

Art from The Secret Baobob
Functional art from South Africa

What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
It is really early days – I must say that so far it has been a pretty hurdle free journey.

How has the economic crisis affected your business?
As we only started trading officially from 24 May, it is hard to say what the direct impact will be.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your country of residence?
Do not try to do everything yourself – use experts and, thanks to the internet, source activities (e.g. logo, web design, translations, advertising designs) out to experts in low cost countries.

How does running a business in your current country of residence compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
In Switzerland people expect only the best in products, but they are also prepared to pay for the best.

Visit The Secret Baobab online at


We invite expat entrepreneurs to share their experiences of setting up and running their businesses in Switzerland. If you too would like to share your perspective, send an email with 'Please send me an Expat Entrepreneur in Switzerland questionnaire' in the subject line to

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