Cherokee Woman Selected as Sole U.S. Candidate for Recognition of World's Most Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs
FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Rebecca Adamson, President and Founder of the First Nations Development Institute, has been selected as one of the world's most "Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. One of only thirteen outstanding social entrepreneurs selected internationally for this recognition in 2005, Adamson and the organization she leads were the only award recipients selected from the United States. In its fourth consecutive year of highlighting the work of the world's foremost social entrepreneurs, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship has sought out practical, results-oriented innovators who assist impoverished individuals and communities in becoming agents of change and self-determination. Social entrepreneurs use business and innovative revenue models to stimulate social inclusion. The work of these individuals and their organizations spans various fields, including economic development, health, housing, transportation, micro-finance, environment, and trade. "I am delighted and humbled that the First Nations Development Institute has received the recognition of the Schwab Foundation for its work in facilitating entrepreneurship within Indigenous communities in the U.S. and internationally," said Adamson. The selected social entrepreneurs underwent a rigorous assessment process, including third party evaluations and due diligence site visits to assess the transformational impact being achieved by the candidates. Rebecca Adamson, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, founded First Nations Development Institute (FNDI) in 1980 to assist Indigenous peoples to control and develop their assets, thus directing their economic futures in ways that fit their cultures. While First Nations distinguishes between eight different asset categories, it now concentrates on land and natural resources as key lynchpins of effective asset management for Indigenous Peoples. "In 2005, First Nations Development Institute will celebrate its twenty- fifth year as a leader in supporting culturally-appropriate, asset-based economic development within Native American communities," commented Adamson. "In the years since we began, First Nations Development Institute has played a significant role in moving tribal communities toward ever-increasing levels of community self-determination, and providing access to capital for entrepreneurial ventures important to creating thriving tribal economies." In order to support small entrepreneurs, First Nations pioneered the Lakota Fund in 1985, the first micro-finance loan fund on a US reservation. Previously, tribal members in reservation communities could only deposit money, and rarely had access to credit. Based on Lakota's success, FNDI has initiated similar funds on numerous reservations through small grants. FNDI's Financial Education Program developed with the Fannie Mae Foundation has also succeeded in teaching families how to save, acquire homes, and invest. In 1994, FNDI established the Eagle Staff Fund, the first national, culturally appropriate, Native-controlled grantmaking collaborative. Over the past ten years, the Eagle Staff Fund has issued over 380 grants totalling more than $11 million, making it among the largest sources of philanthropy in Native American communities. A range of one-on-one technical assistance and training workshops are also offered to grantees. An estimated 40,000 people have directly benefited from First Nations programs in the last 10 years alone. First Nations has formally established a Native Assets Research Center dedicated to researching issues around Native assets and developing policy recommendations. A subsidiary of First Nations, the Oweesta Corporation, focuses on financial assets and has taken over the development of community- based financial institutions and loan funds. In 1997, Rebecca Adamson also set up First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) to work with Indigenous populations around the world. FPW seeks to further develop its corporate engagement strategy to bring Indigenous groups and corporations to the table to negotiate on equal terms regarding investments made on Indigenous land. Other programs spearheaded by the organization include the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, which supports tribes in developing agriculture-related businesses, encouraging organic farming and the preservation of seeds and food traditions. The Food Initiative also focuses on the beneficial health impacts of a return to traditional food systems, and has been instrumental in reversing diabetes rates in tribes where more than 80% of the population suffered from this life-threatening disease. Rebecca Adamson established First Nations in 1980 with her unemployment check and a $25,000 grant, recognizing that existing government entities and private organizations were only increasing the dependency of Native Americans on public funds rather than empowering them. Before starting First Nations, she was instrumental in developing and securing the enabling legislation for tribally operated schools, spending time in jail for this work because of the controversial nature of interference by tribal members in educational affairs at the time. Ms. Adamson has also served as a trustee of The Calvert Group for over 14 years. She championed the creation of "Community Notes" which have brought over $189 million in capital to community financial institutions. On her recommendation, in 2003 the World Bank introduced the First Global Indigenous People's Facility Fund to make small capacity building grants to Indigenous communities throughout the world. First Nations Development Institute is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to assist Indigenous peoples to control their assets and build the capacity to direct their economic futures in ways that fit their cultures. First Nations provides technical assistance, grants, and an array of other services to reservation-based and rural Native American-controlled projects that mobilize culturally appropriate entrepreneurial activities. For additional information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE First Nations Development Institute
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