The team

This is us

Syr is an initiative of Stichting Gys, and is realized by 550 investors.
Stichting Gys is a platform for sustainable and social entrepreneurship, co-established by Gijs Weschkull, the entrepreneur behind the three organic ‘Gys’ restaurants in Utrecht and Rotterdam.

With a team of 70 volunteers, who offered their knowledge and organisational, business and creative qualities, Syr was able to open its doors.

Get to know a big part of the team that helped develop restaurant Syr, as well as our contributing friends and partners.

The team

Minem Sezgin

Minem is working towards her dream to become a documentary maker, her goal: connecting people through their stories! She is a political communication Major and is part of the board of the Gys foundation. Among other things, she is in charge of the inter-cultural programme.

Gijs Werschkull

Gijs is an entrepreneur and owner of restaurant Gys. Within his company he aims at sustainability in different aspects of the operational management. Restaurant Syr is a expression of this idea by Gijs and Gys to contribute to a social issue.

Jan-Jaap van Eerten

Our paper pusher who conducts cultural anthropological research in his everyday life, which is convenient as he is secretary and member of the policy and ethics team. It is important to him to build bridges between people with different cultural backgrounds and with the Syr initiative he would like to contribute to this.

Franziska Sigrist

Franziska does a little bit of everything and supports where necessary. Her goal: To have a positive impact on the world around herself. She studied sociology and business and travelled the world in the meantime. In Syr a lot of things she likes come together: People, cultures, hospitality, creativity – what else could she wish for?

Martijn van de Zuidwind

As a board member and head of the creative team, Martijn focuses on the branding and campaigning for Syr. Before Syr, together with Nanette and the members of Studio September, Martijn worked on Gys. Besides that, he works for Studio AIRPORT as an interaction designer.

Ode Swart

Ode is the project coordinator for Syr. He is responsible for the execution of the project, working together with all the workgroups and external supporting partners. With a background in humanistics, hospitality and project management he felt compelled to join the initiative when he was asked to get involved by Gijs. “Syr will be an exciting culinary experience with benefits for all involved.”

Gerard van Leeuwe

Gerard is the Treasurer of Stichting Gys and responsible for the financial affairs within Syr – no surprise given his 6 years of experience in the financial sector. His motivation to join the team is the tangible contribution that Syr brings for a social cause.

Soraya Petzoldt

Soraya studies Media, Information and Communication, at this moment she his writing her thesis. Besides being a freelance photographer, writer and filmmaker she is the coordinator of the Syr Media & Design Team. Besides that she takes care of the photography. At Syr she can get things done and contribute to more connection and freedom in the world.

Julian Wassenaar

Julian Wassenaar is co-owner of and account manager at Studio September (an internet agency in Utrecht). His team of designers and developers designed and built this website. September was also partly responsible for the design of Gys Restaurant and was consequently asked to join Syr’s creative team.

Rinke Vreeke

Rinke works as a freelance event organizer, writer, entrepreneur and creative while studying Urban Geography. She gets excited when working on creative and/or cultural projects focussing on (the future of) the city, like Utrechts traveling cultmarket Le Bazarre or the music festival Le Mini Who?. Rinke is part of SYR’s creative team as a (social & printed media) content designer and enriches the team with her creative ideas.

Luna Mara

After feeling like she wanted to do ‘something’ for Syrian refugees, Luna stumbled upon Syr and everything fell into place. As a Communication and Multimedia Design student she is versatile but her main focus will be the inter-cultural program, where she wants to encourage cultural exchange.

Tamar Huiberts

After studying religion, journalism and conflict, she still hasn’t figured out just why people can’t be friendly to each other áll the time. Being coordinator media & design offers her a unique position to practice what she preaches. Like a spider in the (worldwide) web, together with the team, she makes sure the world knows of the friendly message of Syr.

Iyad Nakawah

Iyad left the Syrian city Damascus over a year ago, where he used to have his own IT business there. While living in a Dutch refugee camp he started making and selling a typical Syrian bread, which made him quite popular. In the restaurant he will be working as a host and helping develop the menu.

Malou ter Horst

Malou owns her own business, Het Groene Kabinet. She designs interiors for hotels, offices, stores, houses and now a restaurant as well. Because after seeing the crowdfunding campaign of Syr she got so enthusiastic that she offered to design the interior in order to contribute to a brighter future for people who had to flee their country.

Nanette Visser

Nanette is a creative and at the moment freelancing as concepter for Gys Restaurant, among others. From the beginning of Gys she is involved in the concept, promotion and content. Partly because of this experience she was asked to join Syr’s creative team.

Marleen Kuipers

Marleen Kuipers works as a freelance photographer for magazines, advertising and design studios. By taking photographs she is able to contribute to this special and particularly important project that is Syr.

Thomas Klimeck

Thomas worked as a technical project manager for hospitality organizations amongst others. Here he gained expertise in setting up restaurants. He immediately was intrigued by the idea to set up Syr because of his personal interest for the Arabic culture.  It is his pleasure to take responsibility for the technical aspects.

Jaimy Ong

Jaimy is almost done with her Master Behavioural Economics after which she wants to experience the tough business world. Next to being a hard working student, she also has a creative side which she things is still underexposed.  By being part of SYR’s Media and Design team she can finally get her creative hands dirty. Next to that, she helps Minem with the intercultural program. The idea that she, at the same time, is helping the world to become a better place, makes her sometimes jump for joy like crazy.

Maartje de Goede

Maartje is a graphic designer that wants to make the world a better place. While working in the promotion team for restaurant Gys she was asked to become the Twitter hero of Syr. She loves to deploy her talents to projects that really mean something.

Dina al Mosfi

Dina is a talented young woman and from Syrian/Lebanese descent. All her life she lived in Damascus. Then came the war. In restaurant Syr her knowledge of Syrian and Lebanese cooking will be of great value. Together with Minem, Dina is working on the inter-cultural programme.

Muhannad Nakawah

Muhannad is one of our chefs. He is from Damascus, Syria. He used to have a foodstand in the vibrant city centre, selling sweet pastries. Muhannad has been living in the Netherlands for 10 months and joined his brother to live in Utrecht recently. In the restaurant he wants to practice his Dutch and develop himself further as an all round chef.

Anne Kwakkenbos

Anne is a policy advisor at the Dutch Gender Platform WO=MEN and is part of the policy & ethics team of Syr where she tries to think along with several project related issues. From her background she tries to bring in the gender perspective to make this restaurant both interesting for women and men. 

Fleur Renirie

Fleur works as policy officer for the Dutch government. At Syr she coordinates the training program. Furthermore she works on policy and ethical issues within Syr. Through this local initiative, Fleur aims to contribute for a social cause.

Kleitia Zeqo

Kleitia is the crowdfunding campaign manager of Syr. She is interested in all aspects of innovation, culture and creativity. Crowdfunding provides empowering and innovative opportunities to people that to fulfil their ideas and creativity.

Marijne van de Venne

Marijne is studying International Relations. The reason she likes to be involved in this project is that three years ago in Malaysia she saw for herself what terrible situations refugees find themselves in. Marijne worked with Burmese refugees. At Syr Marijne works in the B2B team.

The Things We Are (Joost Stokhof)

Joost works as a freelance illustrator in Utrecht. He loves to spend his time shifting between self initiated projects and commissioned jobs in between his 6B pencils, erasers, piles of paper, old photobooks and a pair of left handed siccors. With his work he tries to comprehent himself and his surroundings, although he’ll never capture more than a moment.

Sophia Twigt

Sophia is a graphic designer and she likes to draw from time to time. She really likes lines, good stories and to work together with all kinds of people. She would like to combine those things within the Syr project.

Hester van Eerten

Hester works as a senior policy advisor for Syr. She deals with all policy and ethical issues. She visited Syria in 2010 and was very impressed with the Syrian hospitality. Hester hopes that with Syr we will be able to show more of this amazing country in a practical and fun way.

Elja Looijestijn

Elja is a journalist. She is an editor at VPRO Gids and the founder and editor-in-chief of De Dakhaas, an independent magazine about Utrecht. She is happy to be able to put her words into actions and helps out with text and communication at Syr.

Sjimmie Lensen

Sjimmie currently works as a philosophy teacher. Last year he helped to set up the two current locations of Gys. When the location for Syr is set, he will support the team in setting up the restaurant and train (Syrian) staff, using his teaching- as well as his hospitality skills.

Rikus Wegman

Rikus is co-owner of Wereldgasten, a small communications agency from Utrecht focussed on non-profit, education and sustainable companies. His expertise in online communication and campaigning video’s is a great help to the project!

Sijmen Tenwolde

Sijmen is co-owner of Wereldgasten, a small communications agency from Utrecht focussed on non-profit, education and sustainable companies. He is a proud man to join Syr by lending his experience of online filmmaking for the crowdfunding film.

Reinout van Schie

Reinout is a filmmaker. He’s been working for years with local NGO’s and foundations to produce interesting and creative video content. He is happy to contribute to the production of videos for Syr and cooperate in defining the audiovisual tone of her campaigns.

Marthe Dijk

Marthe studied Languages and Cultures of Africa and Translation Studies and is now a freelance translator English-Dutch. She owns her own company, Marthe Dijk Text & Translation. In her spare time she plays softball with The Wombats and she is also match coordinator there.

Birgit Schuch

As a photographer Birgit’s focus is on the human living and working conditions and on cultural events and festivals. She has a passion for travelling and as a cultural anthropologist meeting people of different cultural backgrounds fascinates her. With her photos Birgit wants to contribute to a positive image of refugees and to mutual understanding and respect.

Aziz Kawak

I am Aziz Kawak. I’m from Damascus,Syria. I am 18 years old and I live in Utrecht. I came to the Netherlands 12 months ago. I’m a student at the ISK (internationale schakelklas). I really liked the concept of Syr restaurant, and because photography is my hobby, I now do voluntary work as a photographer. That way I can develop and improve myself, and expand my experience as a photographer.

Ernie Enkelaar

Freelance culinary lifestyle photographer who can travel around the world for assignments. He met many loving and inspirational people on the road who make the world blossom. Great initiatives and goals deserve much more light to grow. For SYR he delivers the beautiful and distinctive culinary images.


Our partners are companies or individuals who collaborate extensively with Syr or support us in a financial way. Are you interested in investing, or collaborating with project Syr? Mail to:



eko plaza
De Leckere


Friends of Syr are companies or individuals who provide their services or products to support the project. Would you also like to support us? Mail to:


Social Impact Factory

Kapper Lars