Meet the CEO of NIR Ms Christine Bäckström

Ms Christine Bäckström is the CEO of NIR. Prior Christine served as a civil servant in the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Most recently she was responsible for the promotion of Swedish exports, including project exports, international procurement and sustainable business. Christine has also served as a diplomat in Havana, Madrid and Copenhagen.

On her appointment chairman Erik Belfrage said, “Christine’s long experience in international relations provides for solid diplomatic knowledge and a keen grasp of the complex global setting that Swedish industry operates in. This is an asset for an organisation like NIR. Her leadership skills, network and innovative thinking will add value for members as well as to all partners run by the dedicated team of NIR.”

Christine describes her role at NIR: “I believe that the Swedish industry makes a solid contribution globally. Economic diplomacy, technology transfer and capacity building are key in complex markets and I believe NIR’s role, in the nexus between governments and private sector globally, is more relevant than ever to support the development agenda.”

As head of the Government’s Secretariat for Project Exports she was part of the team implementing the Strategy for Swedish Exports launched by the Government in 2015 (High Potential Opportunities Program and the Swedfund Project Accelerator).

More recent highlights



lack of enabling environment for social dialogue at the workplace level, despite the provision of legislative acts that protect and promote workplace cooperation is a reoccuring issue  in Kenya. To implement good policy there must be a fertil ground.

Therefore SWP developed the UP!  project. Together with Swedish companies as an entry point, and with unions i South africa and Kenya. 

In Kenya SWP created the SWP UP! Programme targeting skills development of the union Shop Stewards from 18 companies in the Automotive sector in Kenya during 2021. As a result, the Stewards were able to use their skills to build trust and cooperation with management in new ways to avoid conflicts. 

A second cohort of training, in close cooperation with union AUKMW, takes place in 2022.

The training allows shop stewards to step out of their daily routines and understand their role and the purpose of their union, understand the labour market context, the laws that regulate relationships and the business itself. But on a human level, many shop stewards also highlighted that they feel respected as human beings, and that they have developed the skills to engage with supervisors and management and experience respect in professional relations. The experiences had deeply impressed them and helped to project the vision of dialogue and mutual respect and their own potential as a means to change workplaces.

The intervention of the SWP programme had a direct effect at the workplaces, where shop stewards listed several cases where they had managed to intervene and secure results in dialogue with management, avert crises or find solutions based on opportunities and the communication skills obtained during the SWP training. For the Amalgamated Metal Workers Unions in Kenya, the shop stewards pointed to how the training had enabled them to design their own strategies at the workplace in relation to supervisors and staff, and to achieve many concrete results.

Based on this shop steward upskilling, I feel confident that as a union we now have change ambassadors that will grow the industry, protect, and promote decent work principles for both the employer and the employees represented. And that disputes will be dealt with at the workplace level by though consultative dialogue.

Rose Omamo

General Secretary
Amalgamated Union of Kenya Metal Workers