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Mifos at the Aciamericas Summit in Uruguay

The Aciamericas event started Tuesday morning. It was powerful to see the gathering of 1200 people from the cooperatives and credit unions sector.

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The day began with an opening ceremony in which Ramón Imperial Zuñiga, Aciamericas president, shared his objectives and points of view on which the cooperative movement should move forward in the next years; the Sustainable Development Goals are at the foundation of the Aciamericas program.

Mifos had its own booth there. The Latam team, along with Argentinian technological partner Flexibility+Ideas, had the chance to spread the Mifos word, explaining what our community is, networking and sharing experiences. Our booth featured the captivating message: “The system banks envy, free in your co-op”

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In the afternoon, we continued the Latam Partners Summit, in which our Community Director, Edward Cable, did a workshop about the community, resources and showcases.

The partners were very interested in this topics, but most especially the showcases with lots of questions coming up and the assurance of some grand new opportunities will come in the future.

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Mifos Latam Partner Summit, First Edition @Montevideo

Throughout this week, Montevideo will host two major events regarding financial inclusion.

The first one is the Latam Cooperatives Summit, organized by Aciamericas: The International Cooperative Alliance, an independent non-governmental organization that brings together, represents and serves cooperative organizations around the world. Mifos is sponsoring the event but we’ll speak to more of that tomorrow.

The second major event is the First-ever Mifos Latam Partner Summit. For the first time, all technological partners from Latam are gathering in the same place for a time to learn and engage more with our Community, and to discuss and share experiences about themselves and their own projects.

Mifos, Flexibility, iOU FinTech, and Jala Group - attendees of Mifos Latam Partner Summit Read more

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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

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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

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2014 Mifos Annual Report

2014 was a breakthrough year for our community as the Mifos X platform established a foothold around the globe and we proved that a platform-centric and partner-driven approach can achieve tremendous scale and impact. Take a few moments to look back at the major milestones from the past year and all the community members who made these accomplishments possible.

At a glance in 2014

  • 2.6 million clients were reached by 110 financial institutions supported by 40 local tech partners across 33 different countries.
  • 80,000,000 transactions were processed on the platform with more than $791,000,000 in loans being managed.
  • 11,630 downloads of our software from 150 countries

Introducing the Mifos Partner Council

When we launched the new Mifos Initiative, one of our biggest goals was to give the community more ownership and accountability for the direction of the platform and growth of the community. It’s my pleasure to formally introduce our Mifos Partner Council, a formal advisory council to the Mifos Initiative staff and board.

Comprised of members of the Mifos Partner community, its role is to provide recommendations for creating a sustainable Mifos user community by building a better Mifos platform and a stronger partner community. Specifically, the Partner Council is intended to provide input in areas including, but not limited to the following areas documented in the Partner Council Terms of Reference: Read more

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Corent Delivers Mifos X as “SaaS in a Box”

Corent recently announced that Mifos X is now available on their SurPaaS platform which will allow Mifos partners to easily deploy and operate localized versions of the Mifos X Platform “as a service” and efficiently support large numbers of local and regional financial institutions. 

Corent will be hosting a webinar on July 2 at 1400 GMT via GoToTraining to showcase Mifos X on the SurPaaS platform.  Read more