FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - A leading foundation has recognized Rebecca Adamson
as America's most outstanding social entrepreneur of 2004.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship selected Adamson after a
rigorous screening process. She was one of 13 recipients worldwide.
The foundation defines social entrepreneurs as practical, results-oriented
innovators who deploy alternative business approaches and revenue
reinvestment models to improve the economic participation of
Adamson, Eastern Cherokee, is the founder and president of First Nations
Development Institute. First Nations has used many strategies to assist
Native peoples and tribes in controlling their own assets, including
microenterprise lending, the renewal of traditional food systems,
sustainable forestry, a grantmaking collaborative with major foundations
and a financial literacy training program. It now concentrates on land and
natural resources as keys to asset management for indigenous peoples.
The economic development models that derive from Native control have proved
a better fit with Native cultures than the federally-imposed models of
previous generations, and First Nations has been in the vanguard of forcing
that realization on reluctant federal agencies, foundations and the banking
system, among other U.S. venues. In recent years, First Nations has worked
in international indigenous communities as well.
First Nations will mark its 25th anniversary in 2005. "In the years since
we began," Adamson said, "First Nations Development Institute has played a
significant role in moving tribal communities toward ever-increasing levels
of community self-determination."
She added that she is "delighted and humbled" by the Schwab Foundation's
honor. The award will enable her to network with business entrepreneurs,
heads of corporations and governments, academic leaders, media contacts and
other social entrepreneurs at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland, and the Global Social Entrepreneurship Summit, which Adamson
will attend Nov. 4 - 6 in Brazil.