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

Meet the 2016 Google Summer of Code Class of Interns

Google Summer of Codegsoc2016-sun-373x373 2016 is officially underway. GSOC is now in its 12th year and we’re proud to be participating in GSOC once again for the third time as the Mifos Initiative and the fifth year overall. This year was our most selective year ever with an acceptance rate of 6.08%. We received 115 proposals and had to choose amongst many exceptional candidates to allocate our seven slots. Selecting our top candidates that balanced with the highest priority needs of our community was a difficult process but we’re delighted to be working with a stellar team of interns from three continents who will be working on mobile apps, our community app, and new modules and integrations.

On the mobile front, Vishwajeet will be building out our first client-facing app – an Android self-service banking app. Rajan will be evolving our Android field operations app to Version 3.0. Our community app won’t be recognizable after this summer with Duplex working on refactoring and re-skinning it, Mohit adding in browser-based offline access and Adhyan adding in actionable notifications and status alerts. On top of the Fineract platform, Daniel will be adding in a module for mobile money integration and Nikhil working on credit bureau integration.

Given we had to be so selective and turn away so many candidates who had impressive applications and meaningful contributions, we’re pushing to run our own Mifos Summer of Code in parallel. We are launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to provide stipends to the students we couldn’t choose but have high-priority projects along with seasoned mentors ready to guide them. Stay tuned for more on Mifos Summer of Code.

Our Google Summer of Code students started their first day of coding on Monday so please welcome them and send a word of encouragement to our mailing lists. As we do each year, here’s a brief intro on each of our interns and stay tuned for a follow-up post with some fun facts on each of them.

 

Duplex Kamdjou – Cameroon

  • Refactor & Re-Skin AngularJS Community App
  • Mentor: Pranjal Goswami & Gaurav Saini
Mohit Bajoria – India

Adhyan Srivastava – India

  • Actionable Notifications & Status Alerts
  • Mentor: Gaurav Saini & Pranjal Goswami
Vishwajeet Srivastava – India

  • Mifos Self-Service Android App
  • Mentor: Ishan Khanna & Swapnil
Rajan Maurya – India

  • Mifos Android Field Operations App Version 3.0
  • Mentor: Ishan Khanna and Satya Naryan
Daniel Carlson – Cameroon 

Nikhil Pawar – USA

  • Credit Bureau Integration
  • Mentor: Nayan Ambali and Ashok Auty

Read more

Two Interns Take LinuxFest NW 2016

Hello to the Mifos Community!

Recently, a few members from our Mifos management team went to LinuxFest NW to run a booth and spread our social message of financial inclusion. Led by our Director of Community Programs, Ed Cable, and our two Business Development Interns, Drew (myself) and Jacob, we were able to successfully spread our social message and broaden our Mifos Volunteer corps.

This year marks the third straight year that we have been to LinuxFest NW. Although it is a smaller conference, we are truly thankful for the many volunteers that take time out of their week to put on such a smooth, well run weekend. It is held at Bellingham Technical College, and is mainly run by the students and faculty at the school. While it is easy to overlook these selfless volunteers, we’d like to take a moment to thank them for their service. They are one of the main reasons we continue to come back every year.

Read more

2015 Winter Outreachy Intern Wrapup

As we look towards bringing on a full class of Google Summer of Code interns, let’s reflect on our recent group of interns who completed our Winter 2015 Outreachy program with Mifos for the first time.  Outreachy was a journey for both our interns and our mentors as it brought home many lessons in communications and collaboration across an open source community as  our three interns collectively worked on our Android field operations app. After their contributions we now have a refactored and redesigned app, a wide range of new functionalities for field officers, and a mobile UI for capturing surveys.  Join us in giving a big thank you to Olya, Nelly, and Nasim, and their mentors, Ishan, Gaurav, and Markus. Read on to learn more about what they built and what their most lasting experiences from their internship were.

Read more

Mifos Tech Days 2016 Is Kicking Off

Our technical community has come together for several days of innovation, insight, and collaboration into the next generation of the Mifos technology. It might be cold outside in Amsterdam, but inside it’s warm and energetic as ideas come to life as the brilliant talents and passions in our community unite. Once again it’s great to see many familiar faces from our community along with new innovators that are looking to build impactful solutions on our platform.

As the first gathering of our developers as the Fineract community, we’re eager to introduce the third generation of our Mifos software and catalyze our first partners and contributors in building on it and bringing it to market. We’ll be recording all the sessions from TechDays so stay tuned as we share updates from the event.

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Introducing our Winter 2015 Outreachy Interns

We’re honored to be participating for the first time in Outreachy after invitations from Marina and other organizers of the program the past couple of years. Our mission of 3 Billion Maries aligns deeply with Outreachy’s goal to helps people from groups underrepresented in free and open source software get involved. Outreachy is the successor to the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) which was inspired by Google Summer of Code and how few women applied for it. Outreachy is now led by the GNOME Foundation and Software Freedom Conservancy.

37 interns are participating in December 2015 – March 2016 round of Outreachy. We are fortunate enough to take on three brilliant interns from across the world – Nelly Kiboi from Kenya, Olya Fomenko from Ukraine, and Nasim Banu from Canada. We are directly sponsoring one as an Includer-level sponsor and through the generous support of the Outreachy General fund were able to take on two additional interns.

We’re delighted to participate in this program that connects talented and passionate newcomers with people working in free and open source software. Our mentors will help these participants learn how exciting and valuable work on software freedom can be, while helping us to build a more inclusive community.

Visit http://gnome.org/outreachy or follow @outreachy on Twitter to learn more.

Meet our Winter 2015 Mifos Interns

All three of our interns are Android developers and we’ve got them focused on projects that will deliver tremendous value as more and more financial institutions go digital and mobilize their field operations. Nelly will be focusing on building out Version 2 of our Android field app providing new core functionalities needed by staff out in the field. Olya will be providing a refresh to the user experience on the Android field app by implementing Material Design and adding long-awaited offline functionality to the app. Nasim will be building out a mobile interface for our brand new surveys framework including the PPI in addition to optimizing our AngularJS Community App.

Mentoring our interns will be Ishan Khanna, Satya Narayan, and Gaurav Saini. Special thanks to Ishan and Gaurav who have been an instrumental part of the intern onboarding process.

Join in congratulating them on the mailing lists and saying hello! They’ll be sharing progress on their work throughout the coming months.

Read more

Mifos Events Round-Up

This summer has been a busy one as Mifos team members have travelled around the country educating various sectors on the powerful opportunity to eliminate global poverty through open source technology solutions for financial inclusion. While the audiences have been diverse, ranging from open source developers to credit union executives to FinTech innovators, the message is the same: join our global collaborative community and help us in our mission to bring financial services to the 2 Billion Unbanked.

We wanted to take a quick look back at the conferences we’ve been at and a couple more we’ll be speaking at this upcoming month.

  • SOCAP 15 – San Francisco, CA (coming up!)
  • FinDEVr SF 2015 – San Francisco, CA (coming up!)
  • SpringOne2GX – Washington, DC
  • FinovateFall 2015 – NYC, NY
  • 2015 World Credit Union Conference – Denver, CO
  • OSCON 2015 – Portland, OR

Read more

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.

Mifos, SACCOs and Credit Unions

Mifos, SACCOs and Credit Unions

The Perfect Marriage

If ever two movements were meant to work together, it is the credit union movement and the Mifos initiative.  We have a shared mission to end poverty, we have shared principals, member control, independence and cooperative methodologies. Together we can accomplish a lot.

The Mifos Initiative was honored to host a webinar “Transforming Financial Inclusion: Mifos, SACCOs & Credit Unions” attended by 130 financial inclusion influencers, developers, volunteers and financial institutions – all focused on the same mission – bringing financial services to the 3 billion unbanked in the world.  Cooperative growth and the strong alignment between Mifos & Credit Unions was the main theme of the presentation.

From its very origin, the credit union community has been dedicated to helping one another grow since its German beginnings in the mid 1800s.  Picture1Because of people wanting to help people by pooling their money to make small loans, the credit union movement was born.  Through a spirit of cooperation, credit unions rapidly spread throughout Europe, India, North America, South America, Africa and the rest of the world.

The Mifos platform began with similar humble roots in microfinance providing a free and open source lending platform to reach the unbanked.  Because of people wanting to help people gain effective and afformifos-tag-transparentdable technology, the Mifos Initiative was born.  Today Mifos X has extended its reach to all types of financial service providers – Cooperatives, SACCOs, Credit Unions, Banks and even runs as the core system for sophisticated financial delivery systems.

Today the unserved are in emerging markets around the globe.  These markets are all about digital financial services.  We are witnessing considerable growth in in digital payments, in remittances, and in mobile money.  To be a modern financial institution – even in the most remote parts of the world – we need to have a modern connected core banking system.  Obviously this needs to be VERY inexpensive.  Mifos X being free and open source is that system.

Mifos technology is the future of financial services.  Everyone is moving into this brave new world of digital, cloud based service delivery; when you adopt  Mifos, you will be miles ahead and ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

Take some time to look at the recorded webinar and see how – together – we make impactful change.