Martin Eakes is a community organizer who has created an economic development strategy that combines business principles with a self-help strategy.
He creates bridges among traditional financial institutions, government, and nonprofit organizations in order to forge new systems that foster fiscal responsibility and economic opportunity. Eakes’s organization, a community-based, nonprofit group called Self-Help, was started in 1980; and its credit union was capitalized in 1984 with a bake sale that raised $77 as its first equity. Today, Self-Help is an eighty-million-dollar financial institution with offices in five cities. The organization welcomes customers who have been underserved by most other banks; yet Self-Help’s loss ratio is lower than or comparable to that of commercial banks. By demonstrating that such loans are successful, Eakes is leading the charge to change the face of banking in the United States, so that sustainable economic potential can be part of the lives of many more citizens.
Since 1980, Eakes has been the executive director of the Center for Community Self-Help, and since 1992, president of the Self-Help Credit Union.
Eakes received a B.A. (1976) from Davidson College, an M.P.A. (1980) from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a J.D. (1980) from Yale University’s Law School.