Gijs was born in the Netherlands. He came to India when he was 18 and lived on a farm in Rajasthan learning about agriculture, rural life and village politics. Then Gijs studied Organic Farming and Fairtrade and came back to India after working in Tanzania for a short while. An Ashoka fellow and veteran social entrepreneur, he founded two social cotton and textile ventures and experienced what it is like to raise equity from an impact investment fund and hand over a business to a new CEO. His stakeholder-owned company Zameen Organic, based in South India, worked with 6,000 poor cotton farming families to create 30,000 acres of organic farmland and reached INR 9 crores of business. Gijs moved to Auroville in 2010 after living in Hyderabad for seven years, because he wanted to learn about deeper levels of change. He started UnLtd Tamil Nadu to support the movement of social entrepreneurs across India and beyond.
Gijs lives in a forest with his wife and two kids, and when not incubating social startups he cycles, teaches Greek Mythology, juggles and practices DJ-ing.