I stumbled onto Kiva.org today and pretty much blown away at what I found.
Kiva.org is a microlending site that allows you to give small loans (as small as $25) to specific entrepreneurs in developing countries and then get updates on their project while they pay your loan back. What a great idea!
You then have the option of rolling that money over into a new loan to someone else. The site gives you all of the particulars of the project to which you may loan as well as the organization sponsoring that loan.
Each project has a page that includes both the details of the project as well as links to the Kiva.org profiles of all the people who have made a loan to the project. It’s not precisely social networking since the site doesn’t allow you to connect with all the other people who have loaned a project money, but it comes close enough to social networking that you can see where they could take it.
Building in the ability to make those connections could have the effect of encouraging more loans because that, after all, is why people are visiting the site. Throw in some embeddable code so you can put a widget on your blog or MySpace or Facebook accounts, and you’ve really got something.
Kiva.org is a very cool concept that could be taken a lot further.