Small-and medium-sized enterprises are the mainstay of the Swiss economy. However, the large number of multinationals based here are also major economic players.

Machines in a factory production hall
Buehler AG, Uzwil © Hanspeter Baertschi

The main drivers of the Swiss economy are its small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 250 employees They make up more than 99% of all registered companies in Switzerland, and account for two-thirds all jobs.

A large number of multinationals have their headquarters in Switzerland. The largest, in terms of employee numbers, is Nestlé, the food and beverage giant, which has a total workforce of 328,000 worldwide. Switzerland is home to 15 of the 500 corporations with the highest stock market value in the world. These include Novartis and Roche (pharmaceuticals), UBS and Credit Suisse (finance), and Glencore Xstrata (commodity trading).

Many companies, especially SMEs, are still in the hands of the families who founded them. However, the last decade has seen a rise in the number of foreign executives being hired by Swiss firms.

The share of foreign executives employed by Swiss firms has risen from 36% in 2006 to 42% in 2014.

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