Grenzeloos Maastricht is a social enterprise with the mission to give an amazing start to new Dutch people with a refugee background. We believe there is still a lot to improve in the whole integration process, and we are very happy to jump into that opportunity.
We do this by taking people along in an apprenticeship trajectory. We focus on three areas: learning (applying) the language, progression to paid work and building a social network outside the own language group.
Why is this necessary?
Many people who enter the Netherlands with a refugee background have to depend too much on themselves. Now do it yourself works fine if you want to paint your table, but not so well if you end up in a foreign country as a status holder. And it shows. If we look at work, for example, with the current approach this group of new residents lags well behind: 5-10 years after refugees arrive in the Netherlands, only 40-50% work, compared to 74% of the other residents. A large group of people stays behind in language proficiency and builds little or no contacts outside their own language group.
This is not necessarily surprising, when you consider that there are quite a few challenges on your plate when building a new life. You have to learn a new language (often at a later age), diplomas are not worth the same in the Netherlands, the culture works differently in the Netherlands, many people have a small network and often there are also health problems or trauma. The result of this combination of challenges is that a large group of people is unable to start well. Or they manage, but take a very long time doing so.
We believe it is unhealthy to leave this situation as it is. For the people themselves, because of all the personal problems that are caused by not participating in society or being isolated. But also for society, because the value that this group can add is lost and a lot of unnecessary costs have to be made for all kinds of social provisions.
The solution and our approach
The solution to this problem is, we think, simply to help each other more intensively. Through an integrated, personal approach. Because everyone has their own unique challenges and points of development.
To this end, we are building an increasingly effective approach that supports people to quickly make the development they need. We combine theory and practice for this, because you learn fastest by doing.
This means that our trainees work a considerable number of hours as part of our catering team. Being active on a daily basis with the language and skills is the best way to progress. Our trainees bear an ever-growing responsibility in areas where they have talent. This helps them to develop further so that they can bring great value to their next employer.
In addition, trainees receive training focused on language, catering skills and general skills such as collaboration, leadership or digital skills. And we actively support building a social network. For example within our own team, or with buddies from Serve the City Maastricht.
Our ambition in all these things is to grow slowly but surely to a place that delivers the best possible. We are not happy when a trainee moves on to a workplace that is 'easy' or 'okay'. We want people to be able to work at the top of their ability. And that our trainees then become one of the most valuable employees of their next employer. Achieving that quality is difficult, but we are getting better at it every day.
Who pays for what?
It will cost us a lot as a society if we leave this situation as it is. Letting people sit on the couch at home when they can actually take care of themselves with the right help is a triple loss. You pay for social services, lose all the value that someone can add to society and the person itself gets into negativity in all kinds of ways.
To break this cycle, it is necessary to invest more at the start of new Dutch people, so that people can work themselves beyond their challenges and manage well on their own quickly.
We as Grenzeloos cannot yet fully pay for the investment required to finance this development ourselves. We are therefore dependent on the goodwill of municipalities and funds to pay for this.
But Grenzeloos is a social enterprise. This means that we want to solve a social challenge with a business-like approach. And we see that with the right adjustments, expansions and investments, it is possible to offer our approach fully self-sufficient within a few years. This means that in a number of years, society will be able to enjoy all the savings and extra value that our approach delivers without additional investment (for free!). And that seems like a pretty good deal to us.
In the coming three years, we will therefore be working on strengthening and scaling up the company and the further improvement of our approach. When we are far enough with this, then our basic approach is self-sufficient.
After that we would like to multiply to other locations. In this way, we are gradually building a movement that will make this social challenge a thing of the past. That way we'll create a society together that is more connected. A society that helps each other to live well.
Let's continue together
Are you enthusiastic about our mission? Then discover the next step forward alongside us. Maybe one of the things below is a great fit for you.