The Self-Help empire

In 1980, Martin Eakes and his wife, Bonnie Wright, founded the Center for Community Self-Help in Durham to provide legal advice to employees who wanted to take over troubled textile mills and furniture factories.

Self-Help has expanded into a 215-employee organization. Its components:

Center for Community Self-Help (founded in 1980) now provides management, program development, fund-raising and advocacy work for the organization.

Self-Help Credit Union (1984) is a state-chartered, federally insured credit union with branches in Charlotte, Asheville, Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville, Wilmington and Washington, D.C. It specializes in home mortgages and small-business loans to the working poor, plus loans to child-care centers and charter schools.

Self-Help Ventures Fund (1984) is a nonprofit loan fund for higher-risk commercial borrowers. It also oversees real estate development, including administering a $40 million loan to the American Tobacco warehouse conversion project in Durham and a secondary mortgage partnership with Fannie Mae.

Self-Help Services Corp. (1994) handles payroll and personnel services for the organization.

Self-Help Community Development Corp. (1996) is a residential real estate development group formed for the Walltown rehabilitation project in Durham underwritten by Duke University.

Center for Responsible Lending (2002) is a research, policy and lobbying group formed to fight predatory lending in North Carolina and nationally. It has offices in Durham and Washington, D.C., and is opening another in California.