The Cab of Our Dreams: Eritrea Fietst cycling towards a resilient city

Social entrepreneurship that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster; that is what we love at Justice and Peace Netherlands. Therefore, we are excited to see that Eritrea Fietst has got the ball (and their cabs) rolling!

Hearing the story of Eritrea Fietst, one can hardly suppress a smile. Back in 2017, Paul Driest and Marcel Kleizen found a surprising link between the Dutch and Eritrean societies. Although the Eritrean climate is not ideal for tulips, they do share the fanatic Dutch affection for bicycles. Little over a year later, their Humanity Cabs, bike-taxi’s driven by Eritrean statusholders, have become a common sight in the city of The Hague. In an age where policy-makers are puzzling to design sustainable cities, these bike-cabs are a welcome find to reduce the city’s myriad of cars. The net result? While chipping away at the city’s CO2-output, the Eritrean bike-couriers are steadily growing into an indispensable part of the community of The Hague.

Entrepreneurship for social change

The Humanity Cab is a great example of the way in which entrepreneurship and social change can complement each other. Newcomers in the Netherlands have to start from scratch. Without jobs, social networks, or proficiency in the language, newcomers often face social exclusion from local communities. The Humanity Cab offers all three. By employing Eritrean newcomers, the Humanity Cab offers them access to these local communities by providing them with a job. Over time, this job could then prove the first step towards building up a social network.

Moreover, what better way to practice your Dutch than as a cabbie in the heart of The Hague, the international city of peace and justice?

Ownership

Besides supporting newcomers in terms of a job, a network, and language, the Eritrean employees also gradually adopt a more active role on the entrepreneurial side of Humanity Cab. They are not only trained as cabbies, but also as, for example, managers or treasurers. Over time, they will take full ownership of Humanity Cab and continue to run the business independently, while Paul and Marcel will continue their work to create more employment opportunities for Eritrean newcomers in The Hague.

However, this does not mean that Humanity Cab is a finished project. As more employees join the business, fresh and exciting ideas circulate constantly in the Humanity Cab offices. Although the Humanity Cab is a taxi service first and foremost, they also offer tours in their cabs around the impressive sights of the political heart of the Netherlands. Perhaps slightly more shocking, they even service weddings! After all, the old-fashioned horse-and-carriage has had its time. 

Eritrea Fietst and Justice and Peace

What does this initiative have to do with Justice and Peace? At Justice and Peace, we strongly believe that anyone can make a difference in solving the global challenges that humanity faces today. We hope to empower and inspire change makers who realise that every individual has a role to play if we are to create a sustainable society for future generations.


Paul Driest (far left) and Marcel Kleizen (second to the right) with Humanity Cab drivers and mechanics.


Founders and change makers Paul and Marcel illustrate that bringing about social change does not require large-scale international organisations or wealthy multinationals. In their case, it took two individuals with a drive to leave this world a little better than they found it. Nevertheless, Paul and Marcel are by far not the only change makers in this story. The Eritrean cabbies, mechanics, and soon managers continue to shape the friendly, heart-warming image of Humanity Cab. Despite the linguistic and cultural obstacles that they face, their determination to rebuild their future makes you wonder why such initiatives are not more widespread.

And that is exactly where we come in. We want to show that with the right help a driven individual with a vision, no matter how crazy, can make a concrete difference in this world. Through our Platform Haagse Huiskamer, we offer our expertise and network to starting social entrepreneurs who are passionate about improving integration and social cohesiveness in The Hague. Gradually, we cooperate to turn their wild dreams into concrete plans for a social business, connecting them to the right partners and other social entrepreneurs who have been in their shoes. Doing so, we hope to be not just a helping hand but also a source of inspiration. You can make The Hague a better place! After all, change is never made by large financial resources or vast social networks.

Change is made by individual people with hopes and dreams. And we all have those.

In the case of Eritrea Fietst, Justice and Peace Netherlands introduced them to the platform Haagse Huiskamer. After an enthusiastic reception of Paul and Marcel’s idea in Haagse Huiskamer, they followed up with a Haagse Huiskamer acceleration session and launched their business. Ever since the launch, Justice and Peace has consistently backed the Humanity Cab through our networks and expertise. We cannot be more proud to see that they have realised their vision, making a truly valuable contribution to the streets of The Hague.


  • Learn more about Platform Haagse Huiskamer here.
  • Read our interview with Marcel Kleizen here.

HELP BUILD A RESILIENT CITY

JOIN

HAAGSE HUISKAMER