First Mifos X Customers Going Live! – Taking Elevate Africa to New Heights

2013 will be the year we transition the community over to the new Mifos X platform. We chose to start simple with individual lending support as the scope of our first application built top of the platform. Already this individual lending app is being used by several MFIs in production. Over the coming weeks we’re going to highlight some of our first beta-testers who have been using Mifos X. In this post, we’ll take a look at Elevate Africa, led by Henrik Esbensen – empowering entrepreneurs of West Africa through an in-depth individual lending model. Henrik ran into some challenges in using the current versions of Mifos so he was eager to be a pilot Mifos X user to take advantage of the flexibility it would enable.

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Our Development Philosophy

John and Keith Woodlock have followed a requirements-driven development philosophy as they’ve built out the core for Mifos X. They along with several Specialists in the community including Conflux Technologies, Hugo Technologies, and SolDevelo have been working closely with select MFIs to build out applications that will support the various methodologies of bringing financial services to the poor. All development has been based directly on user requirements that we have been rapidly testing and iterating on with these pilot users. We are now rolling out functionalities to fully support group lending methodologies with a target of having Mifos X reach feature parity with Mifos 2.6 by mid-2013.

Meet Elevate Africa

Elevate Africa, www.elevateafrica.org,  is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in California in April 2012 – it was formally known as Creocore. They partner with entrepreneurs in Mali and Burkina Faso, West Africa, to start and grow local businesses which are owned, managed and controlled exclusively by local entrepreneurs on local terms. West Africa is one of the absolute poorest regions in the world. Their vision is self-sustaining development in local communities to advance the following goals: increase self-reliance, decrease the need for outside aid, create living-wage jobs, apply appropriate technologies to improve quality of life and leverage training and education to sustain lasting growth. Everything they do is inspired by their Christian worldview.

 

Why Mifos X?

Elevate Africa provide loans to individual businesses only, with no group loans and no co-signing of loans. As Henrik puts, “The Mifos X  platform is ideally suited for this purpose: It has strong support for individual loans, it is very flexible and very easy to use. Mifos X will make a huge difference in our organization.”

elevate_africa_1In the weeks since they’ve gone live, Elevate Africa is already seeing the benefits of Mifos X. With their highly specialized processes focusing on the individual, the flexibility and granularity in which the system has been tailored to their approach has exceeded their expectations.  The interface for Mifos 2.x also was cumbersome for Malian staff to use since it was so tied to the group lending approach. Henrik is already certain that the team on the ground will now have greater ownership over their loan portfolio now that they’ll be able to fully use the Mifos system.

Elevate Africa – an Ideal Beta-Tester

Henrik’s role as a beta-tester has been invaluable; a testament to the dedication he’s shown to the Mifos community as Henrik was one of our biggest and most active supporters of Mifos throughout the transition from Grameen to COSM.  The small size of Elevate Africa and the availability and willingness of Henrik to contribute have been key to this success.  From the start, Henrik provided a clear articulation of Elevate Africa’s requirements.  Throughout the development/testing process, he has been thoroughly documenting any and all bugs he finds and has been very hands-on in testing each feature as it comes out.  One of his most valuable characteristics has been his honesty and directness in saying what he needs and never hesitating to clearly speak his mind.

Want to be a Beta-Tester?

Do you want to be one of the first MFIs to use Mifos X? Are you ready to provide the same level of feedback that Henrik has been giving? Then we want you – we’re seeking more beta-testers for our individual lending application.  We’ll spin you up with a free hosted instance on Amazon EC2 and configure it to your needs.  This is all with the caveat that Mifos X is still in beta until we have our first stable release in Q1 of 2013.  As we wrap up more of the group lending functionalities, we’ll be expanding our pilot user group for that.

Stay tuned for more highlights of our lighthouse customers who’ve been going live on Mifos X and please if you’re interested or have an MFI that you’re supporting who’s interested in deploying Mifos X – share their requirements with us so we can ensure they’re covered in our product roadmap. Mifos X is a true platform and we’re ready to broaden who this solution will benefit – we’ll no longer be just a great system for joint-liability groups – we’ll fully support SHGs, Village Banking, Cooperatives or whatever flavor of microfinance you deliver.

 

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