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Social Fabric

Independent non-profit organisation

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WHO WE ARE?

We are an independent non-profit organisation that is committed to creating education and work integration in Switzerland.

Together with people from refugee backgrounds, we promote self-determined integration, empowering our participants to make informed choices and have control over their lives.

Our integration programme has three branches: social inclusion, work integration and education. Read more about our integration programme here

Since we first opened our atelier’s doors in 2016, we have accompanied over 200 people who have refugee experience on their path towards inclusion.

Additionally, we oversee a community sewing atelier in Zürich and our work on a local level is designed to contribute to an inclusive and strong society.

Annual Reports

Our values

Social Impact

We are humanists, and we strive to make a positive contribution to the lives of people we work with.

Community

We bring together a group of engaged and motivated people who share our core values, and who care about each other.

Sustainability

We believe in developing strong and resilient business practices that support people and communities, and are ecosystem-focused. 

Respect

We value and care about our team members, partners, suppliers, community members, customers, and the environment.

Transparency

We hide nothing. We tell you who our suppliers and partners are, and we admit when things are not perfect.



 

Design

We strive to develop beautiful products and experiences that people value and appreciate.

 Our team

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Justine Portenier

MANAGING DIRECTOR -

Head of Strategies and Partnerships

Since 2017 Justine has been a team member of Social Fabric. In addition to the managing position, she is responsible for strategy and fundraising as well as partnerships. Her interest in the societal and sustainable aspects of economic sciences were deepened in her MA Public Management & Policy, but also led her throughout the years with Social Fabric. She is committed to social, intercultural understanding and wants to create sustainable awareness for global challenges.

Mari Kuuse

Mari Kuuse

Marketing, Communication, Sales

Mari – BA, Anthropology – joined the Social Fabric's team in January 2021. Originally from Estonia, she has a deep-rooted interest in spaces of inclusion. For her BA thesis at Tallinn University, she studied local cultural integration spaces similar to Social Fabric, organised on a grass-root level by active citizens. At Social Fabric, her primary responsibilities include overseeing marketing, communications, and sales. Further, she collaborates extensively with members of the Social Fabric community to coordinate their activities. 

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Ruth Knipping

Head of Production and Education

Ruth Knipping - Graduate Engineer Textile and Clothing Technology, Textile Printing - has 20 years of experience in the globally operating textile industry. In her past positions as material manager, Ruth placed a strong focus on the sustainable production and procurement of fabrics, always respecting aspects of team-oriented and socially inclusive standards. After being a longtime member of the Social Fabric’s board, Ruth took a more active role in August 2021 as a Head of Production & Education. 

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Annette Kres

Design and Production Management

Annette got to know Social Fabric at a start-up weekend. A company where social values and environmental impact seriously count - that matched her vision. Annette studied fashion design as well as interdisciplinary design with a focus on sustainability and currently works at a sportswear design agency. She has many years of experience in product and apparel design and keeps up to date on material development and innovation. The new chapter of Social Innovation fills her with excitement. She appreciates the positive energy at Social Fabric, the mutual inspiration and the good teamwork. 

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Hanna Berhane

Production Team Member

Hanna is originally from Eritrea but lived in Ethiopia and Sudan before arriving in Switzerland ten years ago. She first joined Social Fabric in 2018 as a participant in Open Sewing Course. Only a year later, Hanna started volunteering and took an active role in the community. She led the course of Open Sewing Course with other volunteers and built on her 1-year experience of studying to be a tailor in Sudan. Additionally, she helped to organise the Summer Projects, Christmas Markets, and Tuesday Evenings for Members. In September 2022, she joined the Social Fabric's production team. Hanna appreciates the social atmosphere of the atelier and the sense of belonging  it brings.

 

 

 

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Fatima Hasanzadeh

Production Team Member

Apprenticeship

Fatima's family is originally from Afghanistan, but she was born in Iran and lived most of her life there. She started sewing at an early age, when she was only seven years old, and learned the basics on her own. Later, she worked for several sewing ateliers and factories in Iran and Turkey. She came to Switzerland in 2016, and joined Social Fabric in February 2021 through AOZ’s GEP (Gemeinnützige Einsatzplätze) programme. Since then, Fatima has completed her Pre-Apprenticeship studies with Social Fabric and is currently in the Apprenticeship programme. She is keen on taking her sewing skills even further, and her goal is to make a career for herself as a fashion designer.

 

​ Kouassi Amousso-Doh

Kouassi Amoussou Doh

Production Team Member

AOZ GEP-Programme

Kouassi Amoussou-Doh came to Switzerland in 1997 from his home country of Togo. Since the end of 2018, Kouassi has been working as a tailor for Social Fabric as part of the AOZ’s GEP (Gemeinnützige Einsatzplätze) program. Kouassi brought a lot of experience in tailoring to Social Fabric. After he completed his studies in France, he completed a three-year apprenticeship in the textile trade in Togo, followed by a six-month internship under the guidance of a master tailor. Kouassi has worked as a freelance tailor for over eight years, and is hoping to return to Togo after working for Social Fabric to open his own studio.

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Nassibe Haydari

Production Team Member

HEKS programme

Nassibe likes to sew. Since arriving in Switzerland, Nassibe started sewing as a hobby. An Afghan colleague told her then about Social Fabric. Nassibe is also from Afghanistan but lived in Iran for two years before she had to flee again. She first joined Social Fabric for a Summer Project and then continued to attend the Open Sewing Course for three years. Since 2021, she has been a production team member within the HEKS programme. She supports us two days a week. Nassibe is a single mother of five children. She appreciates the community, the beautiful, bright atelier room, and the positive atmosphere. "There is never any stress here!" 

OUR VISION  — 

We believe that education, employment and social engagement play vital roles in generating positive social impact. While available to most citizens of Switzerland, these opportunities are often limited to people with refugee backgrounds. Our aim is to change that.


 

OUR MISSION — 

Our mission is to facilitate integration and social inclusion of people with refugee backgrounds into Swiss society through education and work experience. We do that by providing a holistic training program and a variety of social community activities centred around sustainable craft and textiles.


 

Our Board

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Megan McGill

Board Member

Megan McGill - Senior Programme Manager - is an expert in the circular economy of textiles, non-profit management and systems thinking. She holds a MBA from the University of St.Gallen and a MSc from Imperial College London. Currently, she is a Senior Programme Manager at Laudes Foundation and responsible for a budget of around EUR 5 million annually. Megan has supported Social Fabric from its beginning and as a Board Member since 2017 because of her firm belief in the potential of our community to demonstrate leadership and contribute to a sustainable and just society.

 

Social Fabric's Board Member

Anna Takihara

Board Member

Anna Takihara - M.A. Marketing Services & Communication HSG, CEMS MIM International Management from Switzerland and Japan - has a digital mindset and is an expert in B2B Marketing and Business Development. She has 10+ years of experience working at Google in various international roles, leading regional and global teams in Lead Management and Sales Enablement. Currently, she is working as a Community Engagement Manage for Google Switzerland. She has a deep passion for sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, which is why she joined Social Fabric as a Board Member in Spring 2022. She helps Social Fabric to build a strong and long-standing inclusive community through its members and supporters.

 

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Rosanna Wepfer

Board Member

Rosanna Wepfer - Financial Analytics Consultant - is the latest member of the Social Fabric board. Always having been curious about social sciences and numbers, she holds an economics degree from the University of St. Gallen. She has been working in a finance and data analytics team of a Big Four for over four years, supporting corporate clients in various industries. From teaching disadvantaged children in Colombia maths to supporting refugee projects in Zurich, she has been involved in social activities next to work. Given her keen interest in social equity and sustainability - two factors Social Fabric combines in a great way - she is very motivated to contribute to the organisation.

Our Advisors

Social Fabric Founder and Advisor Heather Kirk

Dr. Heather Kirk

Advisor

Heather - Founder and Researcher – did her PhD in microbiology and was a researcher in her home country, Canada, before coming to Switzerland to take on a research position at ETH. She wanted to increase the impact of her day-to-day work, and so she developed the idea of Social Fabric as a vehicle to bring people together to create new ideas. She is especially interested in innovation and social impact. As its founder, Heather knows Social Fabric like the back of her hand and, therefore, is the perfect person to support the association as advisory board member.

 

Social Fabric Advisor Dr. Dominique Bourqui

Dr. Dominique Bourqui

Advisor

Dominique Bourqui - BFCC Coaching and Consulting - is a lawyer and has more than ten years of experience as a consultant and coach with a focus on entrepreneurship and business. She works with her clients and helps them to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and business thinking. Furthermore she provides clarification and enables her clients to plan their professional future and translate plans into action. She shares Social Fabric’s values and energy and sees great potential in the people who lead it.

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Sonja Astier

Advisor

Sonja – an IT professional, crossed paths with Social Fabric in 2020 while doing research for an entrepreneurial project. Originally from South Africa, she has been based in Switzerland since 1999 and supports pharmaceutical companies with the management of their IT operations and transformation projects. She has great admiration for Social Fabric’s vision, mission, values and dedicated team. With a passion to build simple self-sustainable IT solutions she advises and supports Social Fabric with  their IT tools and landscape.

Social Fabric Advisor Veronique Riccio-Derksen

Véronique Riccio-Derksen

Advisor

Véronique Riccio-Derksen - Humanitarian Professional - is an expert in international humanitarian law, human rights and program management. She has more than ten years of professional experience in Africa and Southeast Asia with NGOs, the UN and the humanitarian aid of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Véronique advocates for basic human rights of internally displaced persons,  refugees and other vulnerable groups affected by armed conflict. Her work is still Véronique’s greatest passion and she is often astonished at people’s resilience in the most dramatic situations. Her experience in the humanitarian field of work is highly valuable for our board.

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Ksenia Starikova

Advisor

Ksenia Starikova - expert in Media, Marketing and Branding - joined Social Fabric at the end of 2020 and became an Executive Board Member until early 2023. Since stepping back from the board, she continues to support Social Fabric as an advisor. She is led by her deep-rooted enthusiasm for storytelling, and her career has been shaped by an acute ability for constructing exciting visual and conceptual narratives. She has an inherent interest in sustainability and social impact that is furthered by ethnography research, travel and a deep respect for culture-based knowledge, all of which have also influenced Ksenia’s personal ethos. At Social Fabric, she helps us to amplify our voice.

OUR SUPPORTERS — 

eBay Foundation
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Fondation Claude & Giuliana
GGKZ
Kanton Zürich, Fachstelle Integration
Lindenhof Stiftung
Otto Erich Heynau - Stiftung
Stiftung Fons Margarita
Stiftung Temperatio
Stiftung Walter und Inka Ehrbar
Symphasis Stiftung
Zürcher Spendenparlament
roem.-kath. Kirche Dübendorf

Stadt Zürich Integrationsförderung

Netcetera

Migros Kulturprozent

Kathrin Schweizer Stiftung

Hans Konrad-Rahn Stiftung

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