Jan Groen: ‘An uphill battle in the real estate market’
Now that the dream of making the agricultural world 100% organic is coming to fruition at Green Organics, founder Jan Groen is now taking steps to change the real estate sector, with Conburtions. The same approach in both fields: less talk and more action, focussed on creating a better world, rather than just generating profit.
Transparency and connecting all the links in a single chain are developments Green Organics has taken the lead in, in order to realise their dream of becoming the market leader in organic fruit and vegetables in 2030. ‘Not to be the biggest, but to have as much impact as possible’, says Jan. Green Organics is already regional, national and international, but three years ago the idea of making a difference in real estate arose from our strong ties to the hometown of Kampen and the province of Overijssel. In 2016, Jan and his brother-in-law Henry van Halm founded Conburtions, which mediates in residential property and living design. ‘With Green Organics we are used to fighting an uphill battle. This has given me the strength to try the same in the real estate market. You can try to earn as much money as possible, but I consider it to be mindless abuse, we would rather give people a new future. At Conburtions, not only do we look at profits, but at the impact it creates. The name Conburtions says it, a combination of concepts that we stand for: con stands for connect, bur stands for unburdening and stems from the English term unburden stands for participation and realisation.
Conburtions mediates, for example, for people who are stuck in society and need an assisted form of living, or for a mother who is waiting for a small family home whilst still in a toxic living environment, or searches for new forms of living where young and old can live independently but also want to take care of each other and form a community together, or for homeless people who are currently in shelter homes. ‘If it’s successful it can give goosebumps, special moments’, says Jan. For Conburtions, however, the successes feel like drops on the ocean. ‘The shortage of proper housing is a societal problem, there are far too few social rental properties and a shortage of acute care for people who have problems and need extra care. Commercial companies and institutions need to work together to solve this. Conburtions doesn’t have the resources to finance everything, so it relies on money from third parties who support the concept. In order to have a real impact, the banks must also have the courage to finance these types of developments. I sit at the table often enough. You demonstrate successes, talk, calculate, consult and they agree with you, but they don’t participate, I find that incomprehensible.’
But Jan also faced this in the organic sector. It became clear there that you have to work with long term partnerships, something that got off the ground at Green Organics. ‘It’s not just about healthy end products, but about the world that you want to leave behind, the system in which you operate must be sustainable. Green Organics stands for healthy, honest organic products, produced with care for nature. Care, honesty and long term thinking also form the basis of Conburtions. What is hindering people, how can we help them further and make connections? This requires parties to think out-of-the-box and take responsibility and also treat each other with transparency. There are parties in the market who are silent about sustainability or corporate social responsibility, but when things get exciting, they put principles overboard for their own interests. Partnerships that focus on long-term relationships, in good and bad times, are required. That is why we continue to work hard and look for new forms of collaboration that we can give shape to with our mentality: less talk more action’, Jan concludes.