top of page

Social Fabric

Independent non-profit organisation


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.


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


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


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


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



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

 Our team


Justine Portenier


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. 


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. 


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. 


Martina Feer

Production Management


Martina is a textile design teacher. She studied fashion design for several years, developed her own label in women's fashion, and even ran an open sewing atelier herself. To get to know Social Fabric better, she completed a traineeship at Eichstrasse and felt at home from the beginning on. She manages the production and supports the employees and apprentices. Combining sewing and design with social, educational, and methodological elements suits her well. Martina appreciates the openness, transparency and friendliness at Social Fabric.





Fatima Hasanzadeh

Production Team Member


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. 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.


Nassibe Haydari

Production Team Member

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!" 


Rula Hassan

Production Team Member


Rula comes from Syria and is 22 years old. She has been living in Switzerland for five years. After the social worker at school drew her attention to Social Fabric, she made her way to Eichstrasse to find out more and introduce herself. Since November 2023, she has been doing the EBA pre-apprenticeship as a garment seamstress and is part of our education programme. Making clothes, especially recycling, is her hobby. In her free time, she designs her own models from her old clothes. She is very happy that she can learn a lot of new things at Social Fabric - not just sewing, but also words! She appreciates the new contacts and encounters within the team and the community.



Marina Kupper

Production Specialist

After completing her apprenticeship as a clothing designer, Marina explored various topics in the creative field, particularly ceramics (artists' residency in China, Erasmus in Estonia), but also art education (Bachelor's degree). Being creative and working with people suits her very well. Marina is looking forward to sewing more again. She appreciates the professionalism of Social Fabric, the transparency and the respectful approach. "How wonderful: A profession that is dying out in Switzerland is being revitalised, brings people together, creates a future for refugees and sustainability in every respect."


Mariia Budnictzka

Production Team Member

Mariia Budnictzka restored icons in Ukraine and worked in a repair workshop for clothes, shoes, and accessories. Sewing was her hobby, which she got to know and love in a mother and child sewing course. After fleeing to Switzerland, she joined Social Fabric via a Red Cross course. The pleasant atmosphere was soothing, and Mariia immediately became involved as a volunteer. She found the atelier and the community to be a calm and safe place, "like a new family". Mariia has two children and currently works 20 percent in production. The beautiful fabrics inspire her to come up with new ideas. She would like to study psychology later on.


Janine Cleophas

Leadership Team - Temporary

Janine is originally from South Africa and studied Political Science and Public Administration in Cape Town. She then worked for both governmental and non-governmental organizations. As a volunteer, she was also involved in crisis intervention and counseling for rape survivors. Since moving to Switzerland in 2011, she has found a new focus: working primarily as a contractor in international HR as a business partner, handling processes, strategy, and transition projects. She has advised several companies in Europe. However, she still wants to support NPOs. Social Fabric is now her first choice, as the topic of flight, migration, and integration is very close to her heart.


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 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

Board Member_Megan McGill.jpg

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.

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


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


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.

Sonja_Profile III (1).jpg

Sonja Astier


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


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.

Screenshot 2021-03-17 at 20.49.10.png

Ksenia Starikova


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.


eBay Foundation
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Fondation Claude & Giuliana
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


Migros Kulturprozent

Kathrin Schweizer Stiftung

Hans Konrad-Rahn Stiftung

bottom of page