On the Road in Indonesia …

While in Indonesia for a series of meetings, I had the chance to do my very first site visit for Mifos.

Our host, the Koperasi Kasih Indonesia, welcomed us at their head office in northern Jakarta nearby the container port.

We spent some time with the team to talk about the Koperasi and the procedures and tools they are currently using. Their goal to grow comes with a need to scale their business procedures and make them more efficient, which leads to better support by a back office solution, and the need to eliminate most of the paper intensive work in the field and the inefficient  manual data transfer in the office. By then just words to me.

KKI invited us to take part in a group meeting held at a member’s house … so we hopped on a scooter and off we went.

20160921_130003As we arrived, the group already has gathered and was waiting for us. You could feel happiness and tension all around as the purpose of the meeting was to start a new cycle and disburse loans. The meeting started with a prayer and the KKI pledge shouted by all attendees (including us) in unison.

20160921_132134Then some rustling noise appeared … paper magically came out of nowhere. For me it was hard to believe: attendance lists, application forms (of every member), ID card copies, disbursement sheets, and agreement forms. Given that the meeting was a joint meeting of two groups, there were over 50! pages of paper, at least.

The formal meeting started with an attendance check, followed by an educational training session. After the training, four members were tested to verify that they have understood the purpose of the Koperasi and the meaning of group liability and their own responsibility for the group and all other members.

One group welcomed a new member; she recited the policies aloud, and showed her “Fra20160921_135818me of Dreams” to all. What is a “Frame of Dream” you may ask. It is a blank surface that every member needs to fill with the goals she wants to reach, e.g. education for her children, better housing, or growth of her small enterprise.

This frame is shown to every member of the group because they are now all responsible for these goals (shared liability taken to the next level). The frame serves two purposes, (1) a self-motivation for the member, and (2) an agreement that everybody cares about the dream of all other group members.

Suddenly action entered the room and all attendees started to move around and lined up: disbursement time was here. Every member, one by 20160921_140904one, was sitting in front of KKI’s employee, the loan amount was stated out loud, and then cash was counted and handed over. Every member then signed off the payment in the disbursement sheet and the agreement form.

20160921_140926The closing of the meeting included a prayer and the KKI pledge again.

My take away after that experience is two-fold. There are two ingredients that make this kind of business work, (1) a social component where everybody is responsible for each other and (2) and the technology that allows a broader outreach by easing the pain of handling paper.

Cash, even if we Westerners are moving away from it, still has some value. It is something you can feel, which is more than simply the money itself. There is some hidden message in cash that could not be erased by electronic money, a transition needs to be made to distinguish between money and expectations/feelings.  

As a techie, my first reaction was that we can solve all this with decent technology. After seeing what really happens, I realized that technology can not replace a group meeting, rather technology needs to assist the social bonding by providing a solution that allows the employee to focus more on the group, instead of handling large amounts of paper, and other mundane details and error checking.

Technology needs to enhance the social experience, not replace it.

-Markus Geiss, Chief Architect

Thank you to Drew Fass!

Some of the unsung heroes in our community are the community development interns who have been helping our community grow over the past several years. Often their contributions go unrecognized so we wanted to give Drew Fass a proper farewell after an amazing year. He’s completed his year-long internship and is now back to full-time studies at the University of Washington.  You might not know but we’ve created a program of bringing on community development interns through the Chi Psi fraternity at the University of Washington that is now in its fifth generation.

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Along the way they’ve helped to formalize the procedures and programs to effectively engage with all members of our community. Starting with Braden Timm who compiled all of our contacts into Insightly, our first CRM. Ollie Janders then led the transition over to Salesforce for our CRM and contact management, while famously fighting poverty with financial inclusion with a lightsaber! Next came Andrew Mottet who streamlined and perfected the communications cycle and systematized into Google Drive templates and playbook that he used to smoothly on board Drew. Over the past six months, Drew Fass has now worked hand in hand with Jacob Kobzi as he passed over the torch.

Read more

Partner Spotlight: Kanopi

Hello Mifos Community!

With the Mifos team traveling to Indonesia, we wanted to take the time to spotlight Kanopi, one of Mifos’s most productive partners.

Kanopi is based in Indonesia and has been actively involved in both deploying the Mifos platform as well as building new features on top of it. Specifically, Kanopi has developed prize-linked savings, social media notifications, and biometric authentication using the Mifos platform as their base.

kanopi-in-acxtionAn MFI agent shown on the right carries out a transaction using Kanopi’s fingerprint scanning device

The Jakarta Post has noticed how fintech is changing in Indonesia, and highlighted Kanopi as one of the innovators and was named one of the grand finalists of the Fintech Festival’s startup competition. The Digital News Asia featured Kanopi as sparking a microfinance revolution in Indonesia and pushing for financial inclusion.

To learn more about Kanopi, you can check out their presentation on our Youtube channel at Mifos Tech Days ‘16 where you can learn more about the great work that Kanopi is doing in Indonesia. You can also check out their website here.

We would like to thank Kanopi for actively contributing to Mifos and ultimately providing easier access to financial services in Indonesia.

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

Mifos in Indonesia

Hello Mifos Community!

This past week, the Indonesia Fintech Festival and Conference 2016 took place in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. The conference is a joint event between the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin). Although the conference is based on fintech, there was a special focus on Financial Inclusion this year, as technology continues to transform Financial Inclusion.

The conference was two days and covered topics including “Improving Financial Inclusion Through Fintech”, “Accelerate Financial Sector With Fintech”, “Digital Currencies”, and many more.

Mifos had an exciting presence at the Indonesia Fintech Festival and Conference this year.

Steven Hodgson, Director of Kanopi, was present at the conference. Kanopi has been a partner with Mifos for a long time and is working on deploying the Mifos platform within Indonesia.

Mifos was also present through BTPN. BTPN is a financial institution in Indonesia that has been using Mifos since we were a project with the Grameen Foundation (roughly 5 years ago). They are still using Mifos and have around 2 million clients processing around 630,000 transactions per day.

In a country with significant mobile adoption and devotion to financial technology, there is a great opportunity to reach the unbanked. It’s amazing to see the Mifos community come together like it has in Indonesia, joining partners, financial institutions, and ordinary people together to promote Financial Inclusion for everybody.

 
-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

Welcome to Seattle – SolDevelo!

Hello Everyone!

This past weekend, one of our premier early partners, SolDevelo (http://www.soldevelo.com), opened their Seattle office, expanding all the way from Poland. To celebrate the event, they were kind enough to invite some former members from the Grameen Foundation and the Mifos team to attend their opening celebration. I, Drew Fass, was lucky enough to be the Mifos guest of honor.

The Mifos Initiative began as an open source project under the Grameen Foundation. The Grameen Foundation was formed by Alex Counts, to further the mission of Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering efforts in microfinance. HiIMG_0063s method of Grameen Joint Style Liability lending, in which all the women in a community were jointly responsible for everyone else paying off their loan, is what our first generation of Mifos software supported. SolDevelo was a key contributor in our shift out of the Grameen Foundation into our own non-profit. They were also pivotal players in the ongoing evolution of Mifos 2, our first generation of our open source platform. Since then, they’ve continued to work closely with the Grameen Foundation and other international development NGOs on the West Coast.

After arriving at their office, I was welcomed by a group of other SolDevelo supporters, including some key Mifos contributors from back when the project was under the tutelage of the Grameen Foundation. These members included Adam Monsen, Software Engineer and Kay Chau, Technical Program Manager. It was great to see that even 5 years from our departure from the Grameen Foundation that it’s original members are still able to connect over common ground.

All in all, it was a wonderful day at SolDevelo’s new headquarters. We would like to thank Krystian and Jakub for their hospitality and we wish them the best of luck in future endeavors.  

Welcome to Seattle!

Luisa’s Extended Stay in Ecuador


After the Mifos Innovation Team finished their week in Ecuador, Luisa had the opportunity to stay in Pindal to hold a couple more meetings. Pindal is a small town in Ecuador that borders Peru. Even though it is composed of just 6000 people, it produces 90% of the corn in Ecuador. Luisa was joined by the Assistant Director of Banco Desarrollo, Juan Carlos Aguirre, to experience first-hand the effect that the Electronic Money system wo20160719_125711uld have on these rural areas.

Luisa and Juan first met with Pablo Saritama, the manager of Banco Desarrollo in Pindal. They discussed the various types of loans that would be implemented using Mifos, similar to the conversation that the team had at the Banco Desarrollo headquarters.

After the meeting with Banco Desarrollo, Luisa and Juan then met with the Corn Producers Association. They were able to answer questions and gain valuable insight from the corn producers regarding what kind of loans were needed and which loans work best. Luisa and Juan were able to explain Mifos and the Electronic Money System and everyone there seemed excited and willing to embrace this new system.

Signing off,

Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

Monday in Ecuador

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Mifos Innovation team of  Ed Cable, Javier Borkenztain, and Luisa Martínez,  landed in Ecuador today for an exciting week of work. Right off the bat, the team had their schedule booked. To start the day, they met with Carlos Córdova from IOU Fintech to be introduced to his team as  well as briefed for tomorrow’s mCnG1fDOW8AAk_fveeting. Carlos can be seen in the picture to the right presenting his plan for emoney in Ecuador.

After a short break, the team then had two meetings with the Central Bank of Ecuador, one with their technical team and the other with their public relations team.

Finally, the innovation team regrouped at Impacto, the social impact hub for Ecuador. Impacto has doubled in size since the last time the Mifos team visited Ecuador!

Long story short, the process of bringing Financial Inclusion 2.0 to Ecuador has began, yet there is so much more to come. In the following days, Javier, a member of our innovation team, has 8 interviews scheduled about the Mifos Financial Inclusion Cloud. He has 2 on TV, 1 on the radio, and one with the newspaper just tomorrow. There is still much more to be done and we look forward to filling you in with what happens each day of our trip.

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

Summiting the Silicon Mountain in Cameroon

ayukThis a guest post from Ayuk Etta Akum, the CEO and Founder of Skylabase which is an IT Company in Cameroon, Africa that provides technologies for financial inclusion.

A year ago, I discovered financial inclusion, the movement to end poverty in the world. Then I decided to build my company on this movement. The beauty of financial inclusion is the ability to make a very large change in the world in a very critical sector with the least technology possible. For us to embark on this journey we needed years of experience from experts and key players in this movement and we discovered this in the Mifos Initiative, a key player in the world today for the financial inclusion movement. They opened to us a door of experience to meet people with over 50 years experience in the credit union movement, finance experts, banking experts, and a complete banking engine to start from.

The hard part was for us to be open and join the movement by seriously engaging in the community, and from this came Smartfinance which is a centralized and extendable banking platform for credit unions, microfinance institutions, and banks. Our goal and vision of smartfinance is for it to be the microfinance platform for Cameroon and CEMAC region of Africa and ultimately move across Africa. Our partnership with the Mifos Initiative helped us to come out with a platform that will be the future of finance management in Cameroon and the CEMAC region in Africa. We are integrating into this platform mobile money, money transfer, USSD connectors, all the features to make Smartfinance a full-fledged banking platform while giving back to the Mifos Initiative community. Read more

OSCON and the Growing Influence of Open Source Technology

Hello Mifos Community!

I’m back again with another post about yet another conference.

Over this past weekend, I was blessed with the ability to go to OSCON, an Open Source conference centered on the power that open source technology can have over a variety of industries, countries, and methodologies. From healthcare reform to open source cloud computing, this conference had an amazing variety of industries that were positively impacted by open source technology. To give you a glimpse of our weekend, I would like to both highlight a few of my favorite moments and give some insight into how the Mifos Initiative has both been a beneficiary and contributor to the open source movement.

OSCON general

Unlike most years, this year OSCON was held at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas. Personally, I thought it was very powerful holding the conference in Austin, (a vastly different city than its predecessor Portland) as it shows how open source is now truly a national movement and is being embraced across the country, even in areas that are historically more resistant to change. With the new venue came a host of new organizations and new speakers, all with new views and stories on how open source has helped advance their respective fields in one way or another. Below are a few of our favorites:

Performance Case Study: Capital One’s quick shift from closed source to open source

This session was especially intriguing to me, as a large bank (Capital One) is finally starting to embrace the open source movement that we at the Mifos Initiative have been a part of since 2006. After the first few minutes of the session, it was easy to see the commonalities between the big banks and our open source initiative. One common thread was the idea that banks must be a technology company first. In other words, in order to be a successful organization, the bank had to produce a banking platform that was easily scalable, user-friendly, and customizable to suit client needs. Sound familiar? All of these features are what we at the Mifos Initiative hang our hat on and are what makes the open source movement so powerful. In our age of agility, scalability, and customization, big banks are beginning to realize the power that the smaller open source initiatives, like the Mifos Initiative, are starting to have on a global scale.

Modern JavaScript Architectures: Clients, microservices, and containers

This session was more technical than the other sessions I went to but nevertheless fit very well with the third generation of our Mifos platform. For those of you that don’t know, the third generation of our platform encompasses taking our current MifosX platform and converting it to a series of microservices that we will containerize and navigate using a variety of cloud-based apps. So, as you can already tell, this talk directly correlated to the work we are doing in the conversion from our current Mifos X platform to the third generation of our open source platform. While I am currently on the business side of the Mifos Initiative, this talk helped me visualize how our platform will be set up at the developmental level. It was a great way to learn more about the inner workings of our platform and see how and why we are following the popular trend towards microservices and cloud-based apps.

Want students who are ready to contribute? Here’s what they should know.

As a student at the University of Washington, this session also struck very close to home for me. I’m lucky to have gotten the opportunity to intern for a great organization that works in the open source community, but not everyone is as fortunate as I am. For those that do not get exposed to the power of open source technology, how do we, as teachers and industry professionals help mold the future developers of the world? As a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization, the Mifos Initiative deals with this issue quite often. While we hope to get interns that are well equipped to take on any project we give them, we realize that not everyone is set up for success coming out of college. In order to maximize the production of these interns, we realize that we have to utilize the techniques given in the session to make sure all our students are ready to contribute right away so our projects will get done faster and more developers will be getting necessary experience to help them start their open source development careers.

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OSCON booth

In addition to the new speakers and exhibitor crowd, we were happy to see that a few members from our Mifos community made the trek from Cameroon to learn more about our organization and our industry. Among them was Nyah Check, a good friend of Ayuk the head of Skylabase Solutions, our partner organization in Cameroon working on creating a customized Mobile Wallet/Mobile Money application integration with Mifos. Nyahis currently in the States trying to learn as much as he can about open source technology from the various conferences he’s attended. He hopes to bring this knowledge back to Cameroon so he can build on top of the Mifos banking platform to give needed support to his community back home. He is truly an inspiration to everyone at Mifos and is living proof of just one of the millions of people that we have reached through our open source banking platform.

To wrap up, I would just like to say a quick thank you to our very own director Director of Community Programs, Ed Cable. It was a pleasure running the booth with you and I had a great OSCON experience. I look forward to many more exciting adventures with the Mifos Initiaitive over the summer!

Signing off,

Drew Fass

4th Generation Mifos Intern

Accion Assesses Musoni App

Powered by Mifos, Musoni Receives High Praise

Musoni Systems worked closely with Accion’s Channels and Technology group on a comprehensive impact assessment of the Musoni App.  The app is designed to improve loan officer efficiency by digitalising the client registration, group registration and loan application processes. The app works in online and offline mode, and can also be used to view reports or to carry out PPI surveys. So far the app has been used to register over 40,000 clients and a similar number of loans.

While the app has always received positive feedback from end users, this was the first rigorous study into the impact the app has had on loan officer performance, branch cost savings and improved client experiences. We’re pleased to say that on all three of these, the app has proved itself an unqualified success.

Key findings of the case study were:

  1. Business Case: Digitalising operations resulted in the MFI realising an increase in income of $86,620 in the first year. As a result of this, launching the Musoni App resulted in a postive ROI in under 12 months
  2. Improved efficiency: Using the Musoni App increased the case load per loan officer by 68% while simultaneously reducing turnaround time (TAT) from 72 hours to 6 hours
  3. Cost Savings: The MFI realised cost savings of $27,246 in the first year of launching the app, achieved by promoting data entry staff into other roles and reduced stationary/printing costs
  4. Improved client experiences: Faster loan disbursements, no need to provide photos or ID photocopies and reduced potential for fraud all resulted in overwhelmingly positive feedback from clients
musoni field

Musoni Field Officer Registers Client

The Musoni App is provided as standard to any MFI licensing the Musoni System, alongside the mobile money integration, SMS module and system itself, providing a one-stop shop to any MFI looking to benefit from the latest technology.

On average, the five main branches recorded a 68 percent increase in loan officer caseload from January 2013 (pre-DFA) to December 2014 (one year after full rollout).”

Please click on this link, or the button below if you’d like to download the full Accion Case Study into the Musoni App. You can also learn more on the Accion CFI blog where they explain some of the benefits they’ve seen in other MFIs using tablets in the field.

To learn more about Musoni – visit their website.  See the impact these innovating people are making with their app built on top of the Mifos X platform.  As of this writing, Musoni serves more than 150,000 clients in 38 Financial Institutions in 9 Countries.  This count grows every day.  Impactful.

Congratulations on a job well done.