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Meet the 2017 Mifos Google Summer of Code Class of Interns

Google Summer of Codegsoc2016-sun-373x373 2017 will soon be underway. GSOC is now in its 13th year and we’re proud to be participating in GSOC once again for the fourth time as the Mifos Initiative and the sixth year overall. This year will be our biggest year to date. We were able to select twelve interns from our pool of more than 90 applicants. We are very grateful for Google to allocating us so many slots to allow us to pick from the many impressive students that applied, especially amongst mobile and web developers where we had an overwhelming number of applicants. As the voice for the financial inclusion community within Apache Fineract, the Mifos Initiative looks forward to participating in GSOC for many years to come to deeply engage with the high number of students interested in Fintech and captivated by our mission.

This year we’ll have interns representing six different countries and four different continents, once again working on all components of the Mifos X stack that’s powered by Apache Fineract. On the front-end we have 4 students that will be working on various features of our AngularJS web apps under the mentorship of Gaurav Saini, Pranjal Goswami, and new mentors Maulik Sonaji and Vinay Saini. On the mobile apps side of things, we have 4 students working on various Android apps powered by our stack; they’ll be mentored by Ishan Khanna, Satya Naryan and first-time mentor Puneet Kohli. On the back-end, working on either new platform features, analysis, or modules integrating with Mifos X, we have 4 students as well being mentored by Antony Omeri, Avuk Etta and new mentors, Kyriakos Patsias, Avik Ganguly, Dhirendra Pratap, and Mark Reynolds.

Tarun Mudgal and Mayank Jindal, both 2016 Mifos GSOC aspirants, will be continuing the work that Rajan led in 2016 and extending offline functionality, building new features like the collection sheet and more to deliver Version 4.0 of our Android Field Officer App. Dilpreet Singh will be building on top of the Android self-service app by improving its usability, and adding in  additional features like mobile money integration. Naman Dwivedi will be working on a brand new project, building out a modular mobile wallet framework that integrates with the UPI in India.

Gopala Krishnan will be working on our re-skinned community app by increasing usability and redesigning screens and workflows. Raunak Sett will use our self-service APIs to build the first self-service web app for Mifos X. Mohit is going to be completing making the web app available offline in Chrome browsers and Courage Angeh is extending the notifications framework further throughout the web app and integrating with other Mifos X interfaces.

On the back-end we have quite a bit going on. Alex Ivanov, our 2014 GCI grand prize winner, has returned to the community and will build out two-factor authentication. Kumaranth Fernando, another 2016 GSOC aspirant, will be working on the oft-requested enhancements and integration to our data import tool. Vladimir Fomene will be genericizing and enhancing the mobile money gateway kicked off by Daniel in 2016. Thisura Phillips will be conducting extensive static analysis and fixing the vulnerabilities he finds on Apache Fineract.

A big shout out to all our mentors without whom Google Summer of Code couldn’t be possible. They’ve already dedicated many hours interviewing candidates, reviewing pull requests, and helping refine the scope of the various projects. But their work has just begun and they’re eager to help introduce another generation of software developers to open source while fighting poverty with financial inclusion.

While not officially part of the Mifos Initiative for Google Summer of Code, we have three other projects as part of Apache Fineract including the first mobile field officer app on Gen 3 being led by Rajan Maurya, phase 2 of the credit bureau integration module being led by Nikhil Pawar, and live REST API documentation using Swagger being led by Sanyam Goel.

For all of these projects, we’re still nailing down the exact use cases and scope of work, so please respond to the ongoing discussions on our mailing lists to provide feedback and suggest what you need.

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.

Mobile Apps

Tarun Mudgal – India

  • Android Field Officer App 4.0
  • Mentor: Puneet Kohli
Mayank Jindal – India

  • Android Field Officer App 4.0
  • Mentor: Puneet Kohli
Dilpreet Singh – India

  • Android Self Service App 2.0
  • Mentor: Ishan Khanna & Puneet
Naman Dwivedi – India

  • Mobile Wallet Framework for UPI in India
  • Mentor: Ishan Khanna

Front-End & Web Apps

Gopala Krishnan – India 

  • Web App Enhancements
  • Mentor: Maulik Sonaji
Raunak Sett – India

  • Web Self-Service App 1.0
  • Mentor: Vinay Saini
Mohit Bajoria – India

  • Browser-based Offline Access
  • Mentor: Gaurav Saini
Courage Angeh – Cameroon

  • Notifications Framework
  • Mentor: Pranjal Goswami

Back-End & Modules

Alex Ivanov – UK/Bulgaria 

  • Two-Factor Authentication
  • Mentor: Avik Ganguly
Vladimir Fomene – Ghana

  • Mobile Money Gateway
  • Mentor: Ayuk Etta & Antony Omeri
Kumaranth Fernando – Sri Lanka

  • Data Import Tool Integration & Enhancements
  • Mentor: Kyriakos Patsias and Dhirendra Pratap
Thisura Phillips – Sri Lanka

  • Static Analysis of Apache Fineract
  • Mentor: Mark Reynolds

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Mifos Returns to OSCON

Here’s another blog post from our community development intern, Alex Moses, as we returned back to OSCON for the 7th time.  

Hello Everyone,

I’m back again with another post about another conference! Just two days after I returned home from LinuxFest Northwest, I was boarding a Boeing 737 destined for Austin, Texas. I was heading down to the Lone Star State for OSCON (Open Source Convention).

When I arrived in Austin, I was finally introduced to our President/CEO, Ed Cable. Ed and I ran a booth in the Expo Hall, which was located at the Austin Convention Center. Now I would say that OSCON is like LinuxFest Northwest but on a greater scale, but that wouldn’t do it justice. The Convention Center is enormous and there were times I feared getting lost!

Ed and I were joined at the booth by two great colleagues, Isaac Kamga and Nikhil Pawar. Isaac lives in Cameroon where he works for Sky.labase, one of our outstanding partner organizations. Nikhil is currently a student that has previously worked with Mifos during Google Summer of Code, and he is working with Apache Fineract this summer.

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Alex’ First Visit to LinuxFest Northwest

For those whom I have not had the pleasure to meet yet, my name is Alex Moses! I am a freshman studying Finance at the University of Washington Seattle campus. I began my internship with The Mifos Initiative a little over a month ago and they are already sending me off to conferences!

For the first weekend of May I traveled north to Bellingham, Washington for LinuxFest Northwest with a previous Mifos intern, Drew Fass. The event was graciously hosted by Bellingham Technical College and introduced me to an array of interesting and inspiring individuals.

Drew and I conducted a booth where we spread the social mission of Mifos and informed the attendees about the work of Mifos. The attendees of the conference asked insightful questions and were eager to grab our paperwork to learn more about the Initiative. Additionally, we met motivated individuals seeking to contribute to our mission through volunteering.

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Apache Fineract Graduates to Top-Level Project

Over the past year, our entire developer community has transitioned to and worked towards becoming a top-level project of the Apache Software Foundation.  It’s with great pleasure that we can announce that Apache Fineract has now formally graduated from incubation into a top-level project.

Contributing Mifos X to the Apache Software Foundation was a giant step for the maturity and evolution of our project. Becoming a top-level project marks an important transformation to grow our developer community and  achieve our long-term vision of establishing an open standard for financial inclusion innovation.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the press release. Please visit the Apache Software Foundation blog for the full announcement:

“In many ways Fineract broke new grounds as an Incubating project at the ASF,” said Roman Shaposhnik, Apache Fineract Incubator Mentor, Director of Open Source Strategy at Pivotal and Vice President Technology for ODPi at Linux Foundation. It was the first project that was originally developed by a non-profit: Mifos Initiative. It was the first project with an extremely important social agenda in mind: speed up the elimination of poverty. It was the first project that fully embraced the next generation microservices architecture. But there’s one thing that gets me even more excited: how quickly the Fineract community embraced ‘The Apache Way’ of project governance. They truly made my job as a mentor smooth sailing and I wish them to grow by leaps and bounds now that they are a TLP at the ASF.”

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Google Summer of Code 2017 – End Poverty. One Line of Code at a Time.

gsoc2016-sun-373x373This summer you’ll have the ability to change lives – three billion of them – one line of code at a time. The Mifos Initiative will be participating in Google Summer of Code for the sixth time. Mifos X is an open source technology platform power by Apache Fineract for enabling financial inclusion to the poor. Google Summer of Code is a global program sponsored by Google that offers students stipends to write code for open source projects.  Students accepted to the program will spend their summers coding from May 30 to August 29th and upon successful evaluation, receive a stipend provided by Google. For full details on GSoC, read the FAQ and browse the program timeline – student applications are open from now through April 03! You can apply from our organization page.

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Mifos Android Client Version 3.0 Now Available on Google Play

Screenshot_20170302-001322We’re happy to announce that our latest version of the Mifos X Android Field Officer App is now available on the Google Play store. This release is a culmination of the efforts of many volunteers and interns over the past year and a half but couldn’t have been possible without the leadership and dedication of Rajan Maurya. He poured his heart into refactoring the codebase and implementing offline functionality during Google Summer of Code and has continued that dedication since then. Through all hours of the night, he’s been continuing to add new features and fix bugs to get this release out to the community.

Work has not stopped as we have a ton of ongoing functionality to add that we’re targeting as a 2017 GSOC Project for Android Field Officer App Version 4.0

Read on for a deep dive on each of the new features but here’s a small snapshot of all the new functionality in Version 3.0:

Technical Enhancements

  • Implementation of Material Design (Thanks to Olya Fomenko!)
  • Refactoring into MVP architecture for improved performance

Functional Enhancements

  • Create center new groups & centers
  • Improved navigation & advanced search
  • Open, approve, and disburse new loan & savings accounts
  • Attach documents to loan & savings accounts.
  • Offline Data Collection & Synchronization
    • Synchronize clients and groups for offline data entry
    • Enter repayments, deposits, and withdrawals while offline
    • Create new clients, loans & savings accounts while offline
  • GIS Features
    • Pinpoint client GPS location
    • Track route of field officer

Thanks to the Contributors

Thank you to all of the following contributors who made this release possible: Rajan Maurya, Ishan Khanna, Olya Fomenko, Mayank Jindal, Tarun Mudgal, Ahmed Fathy, Nelly Kiboi, Illia Andrieiev, Padmal, Vishwajeet Srivastava, Nasim Banu, Chhavi Gupta, İhsan Işık, Vatsal Bajpai, Alex Chege, Justin Du, Prempal Singh, Rowland Oti, Siddhant Kumar Patel, Suhaib Khan, Chashmeet Singh, Ashutosh Dadhich, Aashir Shukla, R Harikrishnan, and Vishwesh Jainkuniya.

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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.

gci-map

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Infrastructure: Mifos X vs. Apache Fineract

As we’ve made the transition to moving development over to our Apache Fineract community, we have added some additional layers of complexity and confusion. We now have multiple mailing lists, multiple issue trackers, and multiple source code repositories. We’ve tried to address these in various webinars and developer meetings but wanted to make clear where you should go to ask questions, where you should go to report issues, and where you should go to grab the source code.

Mifos X versus Apache Fineract

A line of clarity we must first draw is Mifos X vs. Apache Fineract. Prior to the transition to becoming an Apache project, Mifos X was the software platform. From the moment we became an Apache project, Mifos X, the software platform became Apache Fineract. Mifos X now refers to the open source product distribution led by the Mifos Initiative that is built on top of Apache Fineract. Just as Musoni Services provides Musoni System or Conflux Technologies provide Finflux, Mifos X is another distribution on top of Apache Fineract.

The Mifos X distribution is an entire out-of-the-box solution that is a value-added distribution for financial inclusion.  which includes a web app (formerly referred to as community app), a mobile app for field officers, soon a mobile app for clients, reports powered by Pentaho and a data import tool. This distribution is released and available for download via SourceForge from the Mifos.org website. It is directed towards partners and user looking for a readily deployable solution including the Apache Fineract platform, a web user interface, and corresponding mobile apps.

The Apache Fineract is a general core banking system with just the back-end and APIs and no front-end. Developers and Innovators looking to build on Apache Fineract should go directly to GitHub and grab the source code for Apache Fineract (see below).

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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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