Since a month or so we're lending money through Kiva. Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. (Check it out).
After deciding to participate the next question was, what type of loans do we want to support? We came up with some simple criteria (Education and Health sectors) and searched for loans that matched these criteria using the Kiva Lend page. Unfortunately no loans matched our criteria. So I subscribed to the RSS feed that's available using Google Reader assuming loans matching our criteria would pop up in Google Reader on a regular basis. But....almost no loans popped up and if the did appear in Google Reader, by the time I noticed it the loan was already fulfilled by other lenders at Kiva (which is good of course!).
This last observation led to some further investigation and by checking Kiva Lend page for loans with status "Paying back" and sector "Education" I noticed that several loans did start recently but did not show up in Google Reader. Probably caused by the fact that Google Reader is not checking the RSS feed frequently enough and, by the time it is checking the RSS feed, the loan is already fulfilled and removed from the feed. Also, I'm not really on-top of my RSS feed all day so if a loan request did appear in the feed, by the time I notice it, it was already fulfilled.
So, I need another way to spot loans that meet our criteria. A more real-time notification kind of service. I googled a bit and was not able to find such a service, but did find the Kiva API documentation. Using the API it is possible to create a simple service that would frequently check Kiva for new loans that match our criteria and notify me via Twitter Direct Message. (Twitter notifications pop up on my Mac or iPhone immediately). This way I get notified shortly after the loan request is submitted to Kiva and can immediately check if it's a loan we would want to support.
To make it a learning experience for myself I decided to use Scala as the language and created a little program that does just what I want (see example screenshot on the right). So now I get notified when a new loan is submitted to Kiva that meets our criteria and I can immediately check it out and act on it.
Let me know what you think of this. If more people are interested I'll put a bit more effort into it and make it available for others to also use this service.