"Flights from Europe to Curaçao before the Kura Hulanda were 200 chairs a day. Now it's 1,200 chairs. Tourist growth has been 46 percent this year compared to last year," says the youthful Dekker, whose vagabond-long hair and unlined, film-star face belie his 54 years. "All of it got going from a little renovation in a taboo part of town where nobody went.

"To make something out of nothing, especially when everybody tells you not to do it," Dekker chortles gleefully. "Isn't that fun?"

To say Jacob Gelt Dekker is an extremely effective entrepreneur would be an understatement akin to saying a personal computer is an extremely effective electric typewriter, i.e. it's true, but doesn't go nearly far enough. Although the Quote 500, the Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg (or BeNeLux) region's version of the Fortune 500, recently named Netherlands citizen Dekker Europe's 90th richest person, colleagues define the exuberant entrepreneur as much, much more. He's an almost textbook example, they say, of a businessman who has figured out how to do well for himself while simultaneously doing good for other people, and has also managed to succeed in business without giving up his creative and scholarly sides.

"Jacob is like a diamond. He has many facets, and in whatever capacity he's involved in something, he'd shine," muses former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, whom Dekker is advising about the creation of a more African-American-oriented slavery museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia. "There are so many things we're going to steal from his museum concept for ours," Wilder adds, chuckling. "He's really a modern Renaissance man, a resource for far more than money."