At a lecture hall podium of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, wearing a T-shirt and shorts on a sultry August day in 2010, stood Matt Nash, director of the school’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship.1 He was introducing a man named Martin Eakes, who seemed to epitomize the social entrepreneur at his best:2 caring, generous, shrewd as a serpent, and innocent as a dove. Martin’s organization, Self-Help, was so wholesome that it had begun with $77 raised in a bake sale and was one of 12 nonprofits celebrated in the book Forces for Good.3

Self-Help, Matt explained, was “a nonprofit community development lender whose mission is to create ownership and economic opportunity for ...

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