Thekla is founder and director of Grounded. She is responsible for strategy within the company and supports the teams in business development wherever possible. She is primarily ‘grounded’ in the Baviaanskloof in South Africa, where she is managing the Baviaanskloof Development Company together with local farmers.
Gijs is a co-director of Grounded. He has a strong financial background and helps the team with building business models and structuring investments. Gijs is very passionate about agriculture and has spent years travelling the world talking and learning from a wide variety of farmers. Gijs is primarily ‘grounded’ in Zambia, where he is co-developing a business with local farmers that will support the establishment of a wildlife corridor.
Liz is responsible for business development within the Langkloof in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. She is the driving force behind the development of a regenerative honeybush business. Her ecological background and on-the-ground expertise supports the rest of our team with the development of viable landscape business plans.
Dani is our financial manager. She has a background in auditing and is passionate about numbers. She supports all of our project managers with financial projections and bookkeeping. She is a conscientious self-starter with an infectious sense of humor.
Rutger is a skilled business developer who is primarily ‘grounded’ in Madagascar. He spearheads our project there in collaboration with other local team members. Rutger has extensive experience in business development across Africa and previously ran an indigenous plant processing company in Madagascar.
Fafah is responsible for working with farmers in the Bongolava Corridor in Madagascar to try and find innovative landscape restoration solutions. Fafah started her career at the Economic Development Board of Madagascar before partnering with a friend to start Heri Madagascar, a solar energy company. She also has three years of experience working directly with farmers via a local medical mission and is active in the strengthening the vanilla bean production value chain.
Cindy van Kester
Cindy is responsible for mapping markets and developing the marketing strategy for essential oils, honeybush and other natural products that are produced by our local farmers. She will also support in identifying potential customers and partnerships. Cindy has a strong background in consumer marketing insights and is passionate about understanding people and their behavior.
Donovan is Grounded in the Langkloof of the Eastern Cape and has lived on the landscape for the past nine years, since leaving behind a corporate life in commercial property and project management. For the past five years Donovan has immersed himself in all aspects of the Honeybush industry, from harvesting, to cultivation, processing, marketing and sales and exports. Along the way he has built up a network of industry contacts and has also worked closely with local community co-ops to integrate them into the Honeybush value chain. His current focus is on the ground support for the development of a landscape business plan and sustainable honeybush business in the Langkloof.
Stephie is Grounded in Zambia, where she will develop markets with, and for farmers in the Simalaha Conservancy. She is committed to understanding and improving livelihoods and socio-ecological processes across Southern Africa. This new chapter comes after exploring and collecting information for a book on South West Angola, work on joint ventures in Namibian Conservancies and two years in Baviaanskloof (South Africa) coordinating research. Before that, Stephie graduated from Stellenbosch with a Honours degree in Geoinformatics. Honorary degrees are also awarded for her passion for adventure and travel.
Farmer support and operations
Constance is responsible for working with farmers in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, to develop value chains for products made using Conservation Agriculture practices. She works on quality management, logistics, support to the farmers, and tackles random challenges which arise on a daily basis hands-on. She studied Wildlife Management at the Copperbelt University in Zambia. She is very passionate about nature and wildlife, although her real strength is to create connections with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Bennie is a soil scientist with more than 25 years of experience in supporting farmers holistically. He helps Grounded to develop business models that work for farmers while restoring soil quality at the same time.
Nico works for Agri-infinitum and is expert in best practice soil management. He supports Grounded projects via his extensive expertise in soil health and systematic farm planning (based on tried and tested data-driven approaches).
Quinton is a passionate and skilled documentary filmmaker who helps us to tell important human and environmental stories about landscapes where we work.
Theresa is a powerful visual storyteller with a knack for distilling complex information into compelling content that is simple yet engaging. She is seasoned creative collaborator with a rare talent for extracting clarity out of chaos with consummate ease.