2011 marked a year of major transformation for the Mifos project. We emerged out of the Grameen Foundation and set forth with some dramatic strategic changes to position our community to scale to meet the massive need for access to financial services.
- From Microfinance to Financial Inclusion – The entire sector itself had evolved from support of microfinance alone and required technology that could fully support financial inclusion through a broader array of services and a much deeper focus on the client.
- Community-Driven and Partner-Led – With this broader mission, we had to better utilize our most valuable asset – our community. We quickly restructured as a new non-profit with one unified team of staff, partners, and volunteers that guided the community and project collectively. Our small nimble core group of staff set out to establish a partner-driven open source business model and empower a widespread network of volunteers to contribute to and own the project.
- From Product to Platform – Underscoring it all was the technology itself – to make possible the flexibility to support financial inclusion and enable a distributed community-driven development model, we needed a true platform that could easily be extended. Mifos X was launched and we rewrote the entire codebase from scratch, creating a brand new API-driven platform that allows any external contributor to quickly build their own financial inclusion solutions and apps.
Since transitioning from the Grameen Foundation as an independent non-profit, we’ve received our 501(c)3 designation and assembled a committed Board of Directors chaired by Paul Maritz. We’ve launched the platform and new Community App which already surpass our legacy Mifos 2 software. We’ve established our formal Mifos Partner program with more than twenty active partners implementing Mifos X as well as partners building their own solutions and contributing back. Our community continues to grow with increased volunteer participation and partnerships with strategic technology partners from the open source community. We are now poised for wide-scale adoption of Mifos X – nearly two dozen financial institutions are actively using or implementing the new software as our current userbase of 50+ MFIs serving 1.3 million clients readies to transition from Mifos 2 to Mifos X.
The Mifos project was formally launched by Grameen Foundation in 2006 to provide a cost-effective software system to operate microfinance institutions and help them more efficiently and effectively deliver financial services to the poor. As one of the initial projects of the Seattle-based Grameen Technology Center, Mifos was a crucial part of Grameen Foundation’s dual vision of combating poverty through technology and microfinance. For five years, Mifos was at the intersection of these two programs, developing into an award-winning, industry-renowned software system for microfinance.
As the first open source project for microfinance, Grameen Foundation pioneered a new model for the development, delivery, and support of technology in this industry. They incubated a global community of users, specialists, and volunteers that collaborate online and in-person across multiple time zones to achieve our vision. This user base, contributor community, and support ecosystem lie at the heart of the community-driven movement that the Mifos Initiative took forward.
In 2011, the Grameen Foundation decided to return Mifos back to the community, transitioning it as an independent community-driven effort, fulfilling its original vision of creating a catalytic industry-owned solution. Ed Cable, after supporting the community for several years as community manager, was ready to help the community stand united in guiding Mifos in its next phase. Along with Craig Chelius and Keith Woodlock and active community members like SolDevelo, they formed the Community for Open Source Microfinance (COSM). In July 2013, after receiving our 501(c)3 designation, we assumed control over the Mifos trademarks and intellectual property from the Software Freedom Conservancy who had served as the projects fiscal sponsor during it’s transition. We then united the Mifos and COSM brands formally as the Mifos Initiative.
As the past and current leader of the community, our mission is to lead the community and coordinate individuals worldwide to collectively achieve our vision of 3 Billion Maries. We will provide the leadership and resources to continue educating MFIs to effectively adopt technology, train local technology providers to support this technology adoption, and provide the infrastructure and mentorship for volunteers to contribute to extending this technology.