Jacob Gelt Dekker
Born in the Netherlands in 1948, Jacob Gelt Dekker's youth was plagued by illness throughout his childhood. Not only did he beat the odds during this time, he also achieved an education that would enable him to create revenue-producing businesses with philanthropic goals.
Dekker’s father lost his first wife and children during the Nazi Holocaust. He took shelter at a Dutch farm by pretending to be a Dutch Reformed minister and later married the farmer's youngest daughter. Dekker has always treasured his relationship with his father, who passed on his love of religious studies and the archaeology of the Middle East.
Dekker practiced dentistry in Amsterdam from 1976 to 1989, following his dentistry studies at the University of Amsterdam, while at the same time participating in many successful businesses. From 1971 to 1976, he did his post doctorate studies at several universities, including the Polyclinic Medical School and Health Center Department of Dentistry, the University of Southern California, and UCLA. In 1989, he left dentistry and obtained his MBA from the University of Rotterdam (he also holds an MBA from the University of Rochester) and then became a full-time entrepreneur.
Dekker has opened 120 one-hour photo shops in Europe. His other successes include Budget Rent A Car, Splash Fitness Clubs, Impact Dental Video, Splash Kattegat BV (Sonesta Hotel Amsterdam), Splash Pullman Hotel Den Haag, Barbizon Palace Hotel, Irene Cosmetics BV, Van Gogh International, and Symphony Music BV.
Dekker retired in the late 1990s and has traveled extensively for business and research. Having circumnavigated the world more than 50 times, he spends a minimum of six months in each area in order to "get to know the people." Dekker’s many visits to Africa yielded his first book Bajanala about the children he met during his African sojourns.