Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm started in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Since 2004, the firm has invested close to $500 million in both non-profit and for profit ventures, all of which have a stated mission to catalyze social, economic, and political change. We’ve written about many of the companies that Omidyar has helped start over the years – Ashoka, Mango, Kiva.org, CouchSurfing, and D.light just to name a few.
One of the major areas of interest for Omidyar is microlending and the provision of capital for basic needs and entrepreneurship. Capital is available but distribution can be tricky, and one of the biggest problems is validating the trustworthiness of the recipients.
A company called Lenddo has devised a way to leverage existing social networks – Facebook, LinkedIn and so on – to let people prove who they are and to prove their credibility. According to founder Jeff Stewart, social networks, particularly among middle class folks in the developing world are incredibly powerful and accurate ways to gauge the trustworthiness of a potential loan recipient.
The numbers speak for themselves. Lenddo has been growing at more than a percent a day in recent months and has impacted millions of people in the Philippines. There are big plans to scale the business elsewhere. I sat down with Jeff for a few minutes to find out more: