Confuus: A good safe workspace for people who are not involved in the employment process
“My mom wants to talk to you, to thank you for bringing complete change into my life.”
Confuus is a dream come true. This dream started by combining Griët Bos’ passion for baking with an unoccupied building in the neighborhood (Confuciusplein in Amsterdam). She still has a dream to open a cake shop at the Confuciusplein or nearby that place. “The name of our company is derived from the Confuciusplein, a square in my neighborhood in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Because of the lack of positive places in this neighborhood I got the idea to start something that connects people”, says Griët.
Griët shares her story at a table in the big kitchen where the cakes are figured out, tested and made. This is also the table where she just finished a conversation with a new employee, where we ate home-made soup with the staff and where we drank a cup of tea with the building manager.
“A couple of years ago people prophesied about my husband Matthijs and me that we should share our dreams with others. We discovered by sharing our dreams to one another that we love to welcome people in our home and be hospitable and we like to offer a loving home to people who are having a hard time or feel outside the group. For me it was also important to provide a safe workplace for those people to make sure they feel useful. Confuus is a result of this dream.
How it started
At that time I had a paying job and my employer offered me coaching to learn to think more commercial. I had told her that I wanted to start a place where we could offer a suitable program of daily activities for people who are having problems integrating into society. In 2014 I also went to the Kingdom Training School in Amsterdam which helped me to visualize my dream and get started. That’s what happened. The start just came naturally, since September 2015 I can use this kitchen totally equipped and until now I never had to pay rent (it is a anti squat building). Even the dish soap and the paper towels are paid for us. All of a sudden we have new customers or new employees. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but step by step I move on. I do not have the time for recruiting people, so I said to God: Let the people come to me.”
The cakes of Confuus are made by people ‘with a story’. For whatever reason they cannot do paid work. “Now there are more than ten employees working with Confuus, all special people with their own story. When a new staff member is on call, I explore if he or she needs a lot of supervision. I weigh if I can offer that, if I have time for that. There are several arguments for me to offer a job. It might even be to learn Dutch.
All employees come from a different background. They all got unemployed for whatever reason. When a refugee applies, I am open for that. I try not to judge people who work here, but to have faith in them. Sometimes employees have trouble showing up on time. I confront them with this and try to bring forward the beginning time. I give them space. With almost everyone I have a unique deal. The employees do not want to be stigmatized as vulnerable people, but I like to talk openly about their situation and needs.”
Transformation principles Ed Silvoso
May 2015 Griët en Matthijs attended a seminar with Ed Silvoso and in Spring 2016 they followed The School of Transformation in Amsterdam-Zuidoost. “We were glad the way Volke and Siebe Slagter saw us and gave words to what we do. It helped me to focus and give words to what I wanted to achieve in bringing transformation with Confuus. We were inspired by the testimonies of Moses Alagbe and his church members who bring transformation in Amsterdam-Zuidoost by organizing the health campaign or the testimony of Ken Gott who told us how to bring your church to your neighborhood. I learnt to make a proclamation for Confuus which I prayed aloud every morning. I noticed there is real power in doing so. By doing this, I got motivated to hold on. It taught me discipline.
The seminar with Ed Silvoso on the 12th of May 2017, was the day I started a second location. The atmosphere there is not nice, there are mostly elderly people in that place and it is quite stuffy. I did believe that I could change the atmosphere, but did not feel like it. I was not excited to go over there. But Ed Silvoso gave an example that changed my attitude. He told us the following: during lunch time a huge, white chair that was reserved for Jesus was placed in the cafeteria of a factory. At some point every employee of this factory became a Christian. After hearing this story from Ed, I was looking forward to it and thought: I am going there with Jesus. I do not like this, but I want to be available, so God can use me. Lately I got into contact with a cook who wants to work there and has the capacities to do it all by himself.
How do you bring transformation?
I have a few employees who are Christian and a few who are not and I try to deal with this in a relaxed way. Sometimes I pray for and with people and they pray together too, we pray for the people who ordered the cakes and now and then we do a prayerwalk. I like the way it goes and my dream is that one day I have my own shop. Sometimes I use the invoice to write down a note for the customer so they can ‘taste’ that they ordered special cakes. I do not always bake the cakes myself and I do not deliver them, that’s why I bless the people and cake before that. And we notice that blessing has its effect, for example when a customer returns with enthusiasm later that day.
What I originally wanted was a shop where people can come to and when they enter the place they will feel the change of atmosphere. Although the shop is not there yet, I hear the customers say that when they enter the kitchen they feel a good atmosphere. My employees say that as well.
This week one of my employees said: “My mom wants to talk to you, to thank you for bringing complete change into my life.” I don’t want to be on top of the lives of my clients, but eventually I hear their stories. To work in a place where they are honored and accepted is very special to them. But it is my desire that it also effects the surroundings and even the city of Amsterdam and that I come into contact with key figures who have greater influence.
Next year I want the company to be self-financing. They are going to charge rent from us and I would like to make more money so I can hire more people with whom I can share responsibilities. I am taking a course in social entrepreneurship organized by the Rabobank. In this way I continue to grow myself. Sometimes I think: What am I doing? But I don’t want to miss it either.
Visit the website: www.confuus.com