'Facebook for farmers' brings microloans to people in rural China

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ImageThe founders of a microfinance website I came across a few months ago are giving an interesting, benevolent twist to social networking. At least, that’s one way of looking at Wokai.org, a non-profit organization benefiting entrepreneurs in rural China.

Wokai has been dubbed by some as a “Facebook for farmers,” yet it may be more comparable to well-known microfinance sites like Kiva, which allow people with an Internet connection to give loans directly to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Wokai, however, focuses solely on impoverished people living in rural China.

The site has been around for about two years and says it has raised $45,000 from about 500 contributors. The money has gone to more than 160 rural Chinese entrepreneurs, who put loans to a variety of uses, such as pig farming, furniture making and starting a restaurant.

The comparison to Facebook is made because individual donors and borrowers have profiles on the site, and contributors can read about (and watch the progress of) the people their loans go to. Casey Wilson, one of the site’s founders, explains more about the organization in this video shot by a reporter based in China.

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