Lifestyle & Culture

Social Entrepreneur Vera Günther: ‘To Make Change, Embrace Your Fear’

The co-founder of mimycri, which turns refugee rubber boats into beautiful bags, has consistently encouraged others to make the world a better place.

17.04.2020 | by Christy Romer
(l-r) Vera Gunther, Nora Azzaoui and Abid, in the mimycri team. Photo by mimycri.
(l-r) Vera Gunther, Nora Azzaoui and Abid, in the mimycri team. Photo by mimycri.

Mimycri is the type of startup that you look at and think: I can’t believe an idea that good didn’t exist until now.

The Berlin-based social enterprise, founded by Vera Günther and Nora Azzaoui, collects broken rubber from refugee boats that arrive on Greek islands.

Mimicry’s tailors, industrial designers and communications experts, including refugees from Iran, Pakistan and Syria, then turn the rubber into beautiful backpacks and bags.

Since its creation in 2017, mimicry has won and been nominated for numerous awards, such as the Women in Business award 2019 and becoming a finalist of the Google Impact Challenge in 2018.

It’s been a real learning process for Günther, a former environmental economist that worked on the Sustainable Development Goals for the German Government and the UN. She and Azzaoui had the idea for mimycri while volunteering on the beaches of Greek island Chios in 2015.

And while it’s not been easy, it’s been incredibly rewarding—transforming the lives of everyone involved, from volunteers and refugee staff to local commercial partners, such as refugee-focused talent agency Social Bee.

In a TEDxtalk and a video for Creative Kids on LinkedIn, Günther offers candid advice and encouragement for others looking to use enterprise to do similar good in the world.



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Dreaming of days when you will see you friends again? ??‍❤️‍?‍?Just one month ago we were out and about as @joel.i.thomas shot these beautiful people with our products…laughing and strutting around the city ?Seems like a long time ago now ?It might be hard to picture it but summer is coming and we hope with it comes freedom and a chance to travel with our mimycri bags ???⁠ ⁠ In the meantime #stayinside and try and appreciate the time you have to yourself ?Indulge in yourself. Look after your body and soul so it is ready to be reunited with whoever you’re missing when the time comes ❤️⁠FINALLY spend time remembering the 42,000+ people without a home trapped in a refugee camp across Europe. Let this thought motivate you and make you feel thankful ❤️⁠ ⁠ Struggling to stay motivated in this time? Stick with us and we will give you nudges along the way to keep you active and engaged with the world ???

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1. A new purpose can do you good


“Before I started my own project I was sometimes very depressed and frustrated about the state of the world and where the world was going and I felt a bit isolated in still wanting to believe that a better world is possible,” she said on LinkedIn.

“The transformation was really through doing something, through creating something and seeing all the positive impacts that it had which make me feel way less isolated and I have a much better outlook on the world in general because I’m so grounded by so many inspiring and motivated people who are also fighting for a better fairer and more inclusive future.

“My whole outlook on the world has basically changed.”


2. Remember to be open


“See a new friend in every stranger you meet,” Günther says in the LinkedIn video. “Really believe that magical connections can happen anywhere, and with people you wouldn’t have expected.”

Equally, delivering the Tedx talk, Günther was refreshingly candid about how difficulties in mimycri at the start. “It’s really challenging, and we feel like we’re failing all the time,” she said, adding that there were difficult periods—such as sending out 50 funding applications, and only receiving one response: negative.


3. Fear is part of the process


“It’s not about not being afraid,” she says. “It’s about doing something, even though you are afraid.

“If you believe in your ideas, many will criticise you. It’s always easier to criticise than to do something, but you will find more people who will believe in your ideas as well.”



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we’re often asked about the prices ? of our products and love sharing our transparent price breakdown with you all ?! ? manufacturing makes up the largest part of our costs (28%) why? well our production team ✂️ is made up of newcomers to Germany and we think it’s extremely important, that they get paid above minimum wage ? well-compensated social and economic participation are key to successful integration ? ?for our full price breakdown ?check out our website and feel free to ask us any questions in the comments!⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ #transparentpricing #boatstobags #integration #economicparticipation #socialparticipation #compensation #pricing #pricebreakdown #production #produtionteam #transparentorganization #ngo #nonprofit #transparentepreise #socialentrepeneurship

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4. Prioritise those around you:


“Surround yourself with a few people, it doesn’t have to be a lot, but who love you no matter what, and who will be there for you when things get rough. Because things do get rough if you go on an adventurous journey,” Günther advises.


5. Embrace your doubts


“I was having a lot of doubts on the way and struggling a lot with them, but eventually learned to accept them, and to see something positive in them helping me to reflect even more and just accepting them has been super helpful to move forward.”


6. Do it anyway


“Each one of us has skills to use in order to create the world that we are dreaming of,” Günther adds in the Tedx talk.

“If there’s something that you talk about with your friends over a glass of wine, don’t stop talking about it.

“Do the first step, and the others will follow.”

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