About the Gangmakerij Foundation

Our mission:

The Gangmakerij Foundation is an inspirational powerhouse, which offers opportunies of self-fulfillment to entrepreneurs. Gangmakerij organises events and provides support to help turn your plans and dreams into reality. Doing so makes us immensely happy.

The Gangmakerij wants to make the world a better and a more beautiful place, if only a little. Since the world is quite big place, we’ve started in Leiden. Gangmakerij was created in March 2012, when a group of people decided they missed connecting with others and needed more action. Apart from turning redundant buildings into hubs of creation, the Gangmakerij has also become a meltingpot of matchmakers and community builders: people eager to start new initiatieves under their own steam, beautiful and meaningful events and projects that make the world a slightly better place.

About the Gangmakerij Foundation:

The Dutch government’s aim is to let every citizen participate in society. The translation of the needs of both individuals and groups to desirable opportunities requires an open, positive heart and a creative mind. 

There are approximately 850 freelancers in the city of Leiden registered with the Chamber of Commerce, of which less than ten percent have a fixed workplace. Even though Leiden is a small city, these freelancers could not find each other. A hotspot, a place where the creative and entrepreneurial scene could come into contact with each other, just wasn’t there.

In 2011 Chiara started to organize inspirational meetings for other freelancers and social entrepreneurs, in a recently redeveloped but still empty office space. During these meetings, freelancers and social entrepreneurs who were just starting out could strengthen their networks, launch new plans and help each other directly. The newly self-employed, but also the more experienced professionals found it very inspiring to see each other and exchange ideas. It is simply a matter of utilizing the social surplus value of a group: what one person knows or can do can be of great value to someone else. However, this only works if there is ample opportunity for IRL contact; so Chiara decided to give unused (office) spaces a meaningfull purpose.

GangmakerijThese unused spaces turned into breeding grounds of creativity. Within a month, the organization Gangmakerij was established. Back then, the Gangmakerij might have seemed little more than a loose alliance of enthusiastic people, who wanted to achieve more in life than just earn their money. But actually, it already added valuable talent to the city and its society.

Using this redundant space to create a buzz has the important side-effect of making it more visible and connecting it with its direct surroundings. This buzz ensures the potential of the property will be seen. This, in turn, can result in a new destination, tenant or owner of the property quite soon afterwards, and, of course more activity –  which is great for the local economy!

We feel our mission is to create a fertile environment for starting new collaborations and projects. We also want to create flexible and temporary breeding grounds, in order to exchange services and knowledge. We provide a platform for creative professionals, who want to connect with their surroundings, such as programmers, web designers, managers, planners, policy makers, researchers, teachers, social workers, et cetera.

The Gangmakerij Foundation wants to support start-ups, new talent, novices and recently graduated professionals, so they can develop and establish themselves in Leiden.

Leiden has a large university and a slew of colleges, but many graduates move to other cities, where there’s more going on and where there’s more opportunity to start a career. Letting these people go is a big loss to the region. At the same time, we see that lots of office space is vacant in Leiden, which is obviously a waste. We like to put talented people together and provide the environment to develop them to into professionals. An environment which offers support, where they can meet one another and come in contact with experienced professionals – who often find it a refreshing change to work with newbies.

Finally, the Gangmakerij is also a hub for companies and organizations that have been based in Leiden for quite a while, the so-called ‘arrivés,’ who crave new input and inspiration. Through our services, we bring this group in contact with the aforementioned groups: the creative professionals and the start-ups.

The entrepreneur no longer works from his own attic, but now dares to connect with others in and outside his or her usual environment.

The present board of the Gangmakerij Foundation:

Wouter van Gijzen:
Social innovator, acupuncturist and Gangmaker: “I particularly focus on quality and diversity, by touching people’s hearts and thinking outside the box.”

Chiara van den Berg:
Giveconomist, Yoga teacher and founder: “From experience, I have learned that you can start with nothing. A dream is enough to get going.”

Marike IJsselstroom:
Therapist and happiness-expert, founder of the “Geluksroute”: www.geluksroute.nu