“Don’t underestimate the power of every small action” (Natalie Magee)
I had the chance to interview Berlin based social entrepreneur Natalie Magee, who is about to change the mindsets of business leaders. In a hip Berliner café, over two cups of coffee, we talked about her vision to make the world a better place.
In 2016 during the refugee crisis, Natalie made the decision to move to Germany with the aspiration of supporting Angela Merkel’s policy for welcoming large numbers of refugees. According to Natalie, “everybody deserves to be safe and live a good life.” In Germany, Natalie started two projects; Music by Heart and By Heart Projects. Both names refer to the heart, emphasizing the power which comes from sincere actions – by heart.
She started from scratch, in a new country, with no connections nor knowledge of how to get things done in Germany. Despite the difficulties, she did not give up. Picking up on her former music career in Australia as a professional Musician, her ‘Music by Heart’ project for children with refugee status includes workshops in music, dance and art in an emergency refugee accommodation centre in the outskirts of Berlin. For children whose education has been disrupted by war over extended periods of time, she also runs a ‘classroom-ready’ workshop series to prepare these students to attend school in Germany.
The success of her first project inspired her to start a second one. In 2017, Natalie participated in the eBay StartUp Cup, starting with her idea to teach Social Entrepreneurship and the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and develop the mindsets which are needed to initiate change. She won the third prize with ‘By Heart Projects’ after six months of intensive preparation where the project grew from an idea to a business.
Natalie´s work is closely connected to the work of the United Nations which has open-source resources for teaching the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The last workshop took place in Yerevan, Armenia, in the midst of the Armenian Velvet revolution where the Armenian people peacefully demonstrated on the streets against the Prime Minister who ultimately resigned. Despite the heated atmosphere in Yerevan, the shutdown of public transport and police and military presence on the streets, the workshop was still attended at maximum capacity and made a lasting impact on the participants.
Expectations versus reality
The step to move to another country, and indeed another continent, requires lots of courage and this experience allowed Natalie to develop a deep understanding of the challenges migrants face in a new environment. Exploring a new culture, learning a new language, coping with bureaucracy and the separation from family are natural obstacles. It is not only technically very challenging, but also emotionally. However, she is grateful for this experience. It made her understand the difficulties immigrants face when moving to Germany and to act upon it.
Startup Scene Berlin
Berlin is the place to be – especially as a social entrepreneur. The people living in Berlin care about social and environmental causes and often choose financial sustainability over financial profit. Being surrounded by people with a similar mindset helps you to figure out in which way you want to go. The traditional way of doing business is not sustainable as the only aim is to generate profits in order to please shareholders.
What makes an entrepreneur successful?
“It is a passion for the problem. If one solution does not work, one needs to go back to the problem and try a new solution. A common mistake is that people are too attached to their first solution,” says Natalie.
In Natalie`s point of view, society teaches us that only large successes are the ultimate goal, however social action starts with any small step – volunteering or speaking up for someone else. Injustice is everywhere. We should take all her example and start from scratch while listening to our hearts – then we start making small changes which grow to an ocean not full of tears, but of hope.