2016 Google Code-In Wrap-up

We had the honor of participating in Google Code-In for the second time this year. Google Code-In is Google’s program to introduce pre-university students to the world of open-source by working on a range of bite-sized (3-5 hour-long) tasks including coding, outreach/research, documentation/training, user interface, and quality assurance.  

In this year’s program, 1,340 students from 62 countries completed 6,418 tasks mentored by 17 different open source organizations. We worked with 34 students who completed 159 tasks. Participation was a bit lower than during our first year in 2014 but we still received many valuable contributions and most importantly made a lasting impact on students by showing them what it’s like to work on an open source project. Read on to learn more about our five finalists and their GCI experiences. 

Coding contributions included enhancements and bug fixes to both our Mifos X web app and Mifos Android Field Officer app. For our documentation, students helped to create training slides, record video tutorials, improve technical docs on our wiki, and update screenshots throughout our user manuals. As we push further into new geographies and pioneer new fintech innovation, the dozens of country market research briefs on financial inclusion and fintech will be immensely valuable. Students even got to try their hand at design by creating wireframes and mockups for our website and mobile self-service app.

Thank you to all the students who participated, thank you to the Google Open Source Programs staff for administering the program and thank you to all our mentors including several new community members. Our mentors this year were Shreyank, Gaurav, Rajan, Prathmesh, Adi, Nikhil, Nayan, Tarun, Mayank, Mohit, Nazeer, Santosh, Simmi, Daniel, and Saransh. Tarun, Mayank, and Rajan were an especially big help with the mobile development tasks we had available.

Read on below for a brief glimpse into our 5 finalists. Our 2 grand prize winners will be going to the Google campus along with their parents for four days in June. They will be joined by one of our mentors. So stay tuned later this summer for a recap of this fun event and amazing rewards for all these students.

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Star Contributor of the Month – Denila Philip

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-3-27-15-pmWe’re recognizing Denila Philip, from New Jersey, as our Star Contributor for January 2017. Denila only joined our community in October 2016 but in the short time she’s been here she’s made a huge impact and given generously of her time and skill. Product management is an invaluable contribution that volunteers can make and Denila has been no different. Her work in drafting detailed user stories along with wire frames has greatly accelerated the development efforts for the Android self-service app. Grounded in human-centered design, her plans for the self-service app have given great clarity and a foundation for mobile wallets and other innovation. 
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Star Contributor of the Month – Gaurav Saini

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We’re recognizing Gaurav Saini, from Chandigarh as our Star Contributor for December 2016. Gaurav has been one of our most active and loyal community members since he graduated from GSOC in 2014. He’s championed the evolution and developoment our Web UI since then. He’s a regular on the mailing lists, is often found speaking about Mifos around the world, and never hesitates to help the community when in need. Gaurav has had a busy 2016 – he started out presenting at TechDays in Amsterdam, mentored two projects for Google Summer of Code, helped a fellow partner in the community by doing hybrid mobile app development, continued to extend our Mifos X web app, attended ApacheCon in Seville, attended the GSOC Mentors Summit in Mountain View, served as a mentor for Google Code-In, and is helping to get our web self-service app off the ground. 

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Star Contributor of the Month – Pranjal Goswami


screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-9-54-32-pmWe’re a little behind on recognizing Star Contributors so we’re going catch up for 2016. For November, we’re honoring Pranjal Goswami from Bangalore, India. Pranjal is one of our most gifted and talented community members and it was only in 2016 that we were finally able to get him directly involved with the community. He mentored two students for Google Summer of Code, lending his expertise and graphic design skills to assist in refactoring and re-skinning our web app and also mentoring Adhyan in building out a notifications framework for the web app. He was also chosen to attend the 2016 Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit along with Gaurav. Pranjal will be busy throughout 2017 but we look forward to making him an active contributor to the Apache Fineract community.

Pranjal Goswami – Bangalore, India

Brief Bio (in the words of Pranjal):

Currently working as Head of Product for tnpsuite.com which we ideated during graduation to streamline the process of campus placement drives in India. The platform helps colleges recognise gaps in placements using the student specific analysis.

When not in front of my laptop coding, I like spending time traveling, reading or playing sitar (an Indian classical music instrument)

Relevant Skills & Experience: Full stack developer for three years. Worked on big scale web applications built on Angular JS.

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Partner Spotlight – Flexibility

This regular blog series will shine the light on some of our top Partners. Not only do we want to recognize them for their accomplishments, we want others to learn from the approach they’ve taken to promote and implement Mifos.

Mifos Partners are one of the most crucial links in our community – they are the driving force that is promoting and supporting Mifos worldwide.  Aside from championing our product and bringing the Mifos technology to new markets, they act as the fundamental bridge feeding in MFI requirements to be developed by the community. Partners don’t stop there as many are also developing and localizing the product to fit their local market.  For all these reasons, we focus our full energy on making Partners successful – they are the primary channel to market, the eyes and ears on the ground, and the entrepreneurial force that will help us sustainably scale. We’d love to recognize your partner organization in this monthly spotlight so please reach out if you’d like to be featured.

Flexibility was one of our first Mifos partners in Latin America. They have championed Mifos all throughout South and Central America. They have been an active part of our online and local community, speaking at regional events and participating at our first Latam Partner Summit. We look forward to working with them and their highly professional team as they take on new opportunities throughout the region.

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ThitsaWorks Takes Mifos to Myanmar

The following is a guest post from May Thu Myint, Communications Officer of ThitsaWorks, Inc.

Hello Mifos community!

We’d like to take this moment to introduce ourselves. We are ThitsaWorks, the first Mifos partner to be based in Myanmar. We are delighted to be a part of this great community. We’d like to take this moment to tell you about what we’ve been up to lately.

October was a busy month for ThitsaWorks as we began meeting with various organizations to begin formally introducing ourselves to the MFI community here.

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Star Contributor of the Month – Rajan Maurya

We’re recognizing Rajan Maurya, recent GSOC graduate, from Delhi as our Star Contributor. Rajan didn’t wait a moment to continue excelling as a contributor even as GSOC concluded. He has continued his development and bug fixing for the Android field officer app and has graciously helped to mentor any new contributor that has come along. He has also taken the initiative to lead the Android Self-Service App by putting in place a strong architecture and guiding fellow volunteers to contribute. It’s been a pleasure to work with Rajan to see how tirelessly he dedicates himself to the Mifos community at all hours of the night. Join us in congratulating Rajan and follow his lead so you too can be recognized as Star Contributor in an upcoming month. 
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Partner Spotlight – Singo Africa

This regular blog series will shine the light on some of our top Partners. Not only do we want to recognize them for their accomplishments, we want others to learn from the approach they’ve taken to promote and implement Mifos.

Mifos Partners are one of the most crucial links in our community – they are the driving force that is promoting and supporting Mifos worldwide.  Aside from championing our product and bringing the Mifos technology to new markets, they act as the fundamental bridge feeding in MFI requirements to be developed by the community. Partners don’t stop there as many are also developing and localizing the product to fit their local market.  For all these reasons, we focus our full energy on making Partners successful – they are the primary channel to market, the eyes and ears on the ground, and the entrepreneurial force that will help us sustainably scale. We’d love to recognize your partner organization in this monthly spotlight so please reach out if you’d like to be featured.

Singo Africa Limited has been a Mifos partner since August of 2015, bringing their experience deploying IT solutions in the banking and manufacturing industries to the microfinance and SACCO sector. In that time, they’ve quickly made Mifos a recognizable name in Tanzania, promoting the system to more than 70% of the market. They were recently certified by the Registrar of Cooperatives as a Certified Service Provider to the Cooperative Societies with Mifos as the audited solution.

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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.

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