Martin Eakes co-founded Self-Help, a community development lender, in 1980. Self-Help has
provided $7 billion in financing to more than 85,000 homebuyers, small businesses, and
nonprofits. Self-Help reaches people who are underserved by conventional lenders—particularly
persons of color, immigrants, women, rural residents, and low-wealth families. Self-Help has 50
branch offices in North Carolina, California, Illinois, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, and
Martin helped establish in 2002 an affiliate of Self-Help, the Center for Responsible Lending,
which battles predatory mortgage and payday lenders across the country and fights to protect
homeownership and family wealth for working families. He was designated “the greatest enemy
in the world” to the 450% interest rate payday lenders, which Martin considers one of his most
memorable and significant honors.
Martin has been honored with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Hubert
Humphrey Award, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellow Award,
Ford Foundation’s Visionary Award, the AARP Inspire Award, Credit Union National
Association Wegner Award, National Consumer Law Center’s Father Robert F Drinan
Leadership Award, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation National Families Count Award.
Martin holds a law degree from Yale, a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of
Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and a bachelor's in physics and philosophy from
Davidson College. A native of North Carolina, he is a nationally recognized expert on
development finance and on campaigns for racial and economic justice.