Great post Jared! About a year ago, while taking a class on business strategies in emerging markets, we discussed something similar to this. I can't find the specific example, but I believe the business was selling generators to a group of buyers in a similar format - 10 buyers would pitch in 1/10th of the cost of the generator each month and one recipient a month was chosen.
I think this model is brilliant. In this example, the group finances each purchase, which eliminates the concern of financing from the business' perspective. As you mentioned, the group can decide which borrowers are trustworthy. And in some cases, the entire group benefits from the first purchase. (Remember when we used to share?)
What MAF does in regards to building credit using this model is huge. When you pay back a loan, whether to a financial institution or a group, that should count towards building good credit.