Why We're Open
To overcome the system-wide technology barrier that is stifling the growth of microfinance, we believe an open approach is necessary. Through an open approach to software, community knowledge, and problem solving we can transform technology from a barrier into an accelerator for microfinance.
Community is a powerful accelerator. Both the technical and business communities are an important part of the broad ecosystem that supports Mifos. Members of these communities drive innovation, improving the platform and increasing interest in and adoption of Mifos. By harnessing and reinforcing the contributions of our community, open source serves as a powerful accelerator to development, adoption, and innovation.
- Development: The community’s testing, QA, and feedback reduce the time and cost of improving the core Mifos platform. The community itself is strengthened and extended by our developers’ use of popular open source libraries, accessible to all.
- Adoption: Driven by the network effects of community and the viral nature of open source, growing interest in Mifos is met by an equally strong partner channel — Specialists — who distribute Mifos with support and guidance from the community.
- Innovation: Our community-driven approach fosters grass-roots innovation that scales the modular architecture of the Mifos platform, improving front- and back-end technologies to help microfinance broaden its reach.
Our strategy is comprehensive, community-focused, and governed by the principle of openness. Only Mifos addresses all the barriers that must be overcome to achieve wider adoption of advanced technology in microfinance. More importantly, our programs are based on building an open community of stakeholders who contribute and share knowledge.
Access to Specialists
Mifos is open not only to any MFI, but also to any systems integrator, value-added reseller, or consultant. This means that any microfinance institution can partner with any competent Specialist of mutual choice.
Integration with other Business Systems
From a business strategy perspective, an MFI can adopt Mifos and be confident that they can integrate Mifos into any future business decision they make regarding other business systems, such as accounting, human resources, mobile, etc. Moreover, they can customize Mifos to meet the unique business, social, or regulatory needs of their environment.
Why Open Source?
Technology for microfinance products traditionally rely on closed and proprietary technology. Issues with the software are decided by the company supplying the technology rather than other MFIs, often the real experts. So most microfinance institutions create their own technology rather than be locked into a solution they can’t control. They make improvements that aren't shared, and they end up isolated from the industry knowledge that could help them most.
Mifos is open source technology. The source code can be downloaded from mifos.org and is feely available under the Apache License Version 2.0. While Mifos provides cost-effective, robust technology that can be modified to meet your needs, the true value in Mifos is freedom:
- Freedom to scale securely
- Freedom to contribute directly to the quality of the product
- Freedom to customize by incorporating add-ons and integrating new technologies, and
- Freedom to support and maintain Mifos for the full lifespan of your organization without being tied down to any one vendor or fear of the product no longer being supported.
Rapid Innovation through an Open Source Platform
As an open source platform, Mifos’ functionality is rapidly evolving with two major releases and four minor releases each year. Development of the core is guided by expert software engineers at the Grameen Foundation and actively extended by a global community of MFIs, individual software developers, and corporate contributors like SunGard and ThoughtWorks. Working with an ever-expanding API layer, our community is able to extend functionality through new plug-ins and deeper integration with other systems and payment networks.
Benefits of Open Source
In summary, the benefits of Mifos’ open source strategy provide:
- Freedom: With an extensible platform and the freedom to control your product and data, you can be sure you won't be locked into unsupportable technology that stifles growth or doesn't fulfill your needs.
- Participation: The entire microfinance industry and the broader technology ecosystem surrounding it have the freedom to suggest improvements, build new features, and innovate for the entire sector.
- Quality: Thanks to the thorough testing by our global community of users and developers, the industry has access to an MIS solution of greater quality and security through.
- Transparency: The openness of our approach includes published roadmaps and design documentation, bug tracking systems, and open communication channels. This ensures the quality of our product and aids in the creation of industry-wide knowledge and best practices.
- Adaptability: Regardless of your geographical or operational requirements, Mifos source code can be freely extended, configured, and localized to support your unique language, product mix, and regulatory needs.
- Collaboration: Through interactive tools on mifos.org and open communication channels like mailing lists and IRC, our community supports each other in the deployment and development of Mifos.
- Creativity: Fueling innovation at the local level, the community guides the creation of new products and technologies that extend the reach of microfinance to the poor.
- Longevity: Mifos is a constantly evolving technology that outlasts specific vendors. Both the core platform and front-end innovations are guided and actively maintained by the members of our community.