Skoll Foundation in England named Ma. Cecilia Flores- Oebanda, a Filipina freedom fighter and Visayan Forum Foundation, Inc. (VFFI) founder and president, as a leading social entrepreneur for her outstanding and innovative contribution to eliminate human trafficking and other forms of human rights abuse in the Philippines.
Oebanda is also the first Asian awardee to join the growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for the world’s most urgent social and economic challenges.
The Skoll Awards were presented by the foundation's chairman Jeff Skoll; Sally Osberg, Skoll President and CEO; and special guest, former President Jimmy Carter at the fifth annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford in England. The Skoll World Forum convenes a global community of outstanding practitioners and leaders in social entrepreneurship to set the future agenda for visionaries who want to transform society.
As a child in the Philippines, Oebanda helped her family survive by selling fish and scavenging garbage. As freedom-fighters against the Marcos dictatorship, she and her husband were jailed for four years and separated from their oldest son. Their two other children were born in detention.
After democracy prevailed, Oebanda founded the Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VFFI) in 1991 to eliminate human trafficking through public-private partnerships that rescue, protect and reintegrate victims. The VFFI has served 18,500 victims and potential victims to date and has filed 66 legal cases on behalf of 166 complainants. By 2011, VFFI plans to expand its multi-sectoral networks and its program against human trafficking. The VFFI is based in Manila.
Amazon Conservation Team, American Council on Renewable Energy, Arzu, Digital Divide Data, Half the Sky Foundation, KIVA, mothers2mothers, Partners in Health, PeaceWorks Foundation, and the Population and Community Development Association also received the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship and a three-year, $1 million grant.
"We know solutions exist around the world that have transformed millions of lives, in a sustainable way, across education, health, environmental and other social systems," said Osberg. "We think the new Skoll social entrepreneurs represent some of the best, most innovative, of those solutions, and bring an exciting new level of energy and creativity to our portfolio," Osberg added.
"These remarkable individuals and their tireless teams are tackling issues that require our most immediate attention. And most importantly, the models they have developed have the potential for vastly increased impact."
The Skoll Foundation is an international non-government organization set up to advance systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs are proven leaders whose approaches and solutions to social problems are helping to better the lives and circumstances of countless underserved or disadvantaged individuals.