Grounded was founded in 2014 by Thekla Teunis under the name “Four Returns”. Thekla’s inspiration for this new endeavor originated during an eye-opening cycling trip though China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. She was struck by the declining state of the agricultural lands she was riding through. After weeks of seeing this degradation she decided that she wanted to work with farmers to make their land healthier and more productive. In 2015 Thekla met Gijs Boers in Zambia. Gijs had been travelling around the world working with farmers for three years and the duo teamed up to see if they could start something new and exciting and so Grounded was born.
During the early days Commonland acted as Grounded’s founding partner. Commonland is an innovative landscape restoration organisation with a truly global scope and it works to rehabilitate landscapes and revive surrounding communities through a replicable method that aims to achieve four distinct returns.
Grounded now acts as a separate legal entity, independent from Commonland, and we now focus specifically on developing businesses with farmers. We continue to collaborate very closely with our farming partners on different projects, and Grounded still adopts the “Four Returns” philosophy in the design and development of our various Landscape Business Plans.
Grounded believes working together is much better than constantly trying to re-invent the wheel. In different projects, we have established partnerships in different ways. There is no fixed recipe and we try to adapt to different situations. We focus on building strong relationships with all our partners, including our investors.
We are determined to support local stakeholders by developing their vision for their landscapes, to fully commit to that vision and develop new businesses that support that vision.
The complexity of the work we do requires us to be adaptable to different landscapes, situations and changing priorities.
We work honestly. We strive towards building trust-based relationships based on mutual respect.
We work in difficult environments. Without the courage to try, we will never move towards action.
We know that we are reliant on others to undertake our work. And we admit that we make mistakes.
We are open towards new ideas and are not rigid in our approach. We share what we learn so others can benefit from it.
We seek balance and a fair share for all parties involved in our businesses.
Restore degraded landscapes across Sub Saharan Africa by working with farmers to bring agriculture back into balance.
Creating companies that bring sustainable agricultural products to market; products that our farming partners have proudly harvested from thriving landscapes, and that allow consumers to feel meaningfully connected to the landscapes these crops were grown in.