Recapping Random Hacks of Kindness

Two days. Three continents. Twenty volunteers. One mission – 3 Billion Maries.

rhok_logo_CS4-300x95Earlier this month, volunteers from HP and the broader geekspace  came together to “hack for humanity” as part of the global Random Hacks of Kindness. With support from Social Coding 4 Good we united in various worldwide locations to take on three different challenges we had presented to strengthen the Mifos X platform.  In Bangalore, Dublin, San Francisco, and via a remote bonus team in Chennai, we set out  to build solutions to our three problem definitions along with volunteers from  HP Social Innovation – 1) Mobile App for Mifos X, 2) Integration of SMS communications, and 3) Creation of a WYSIWYG document generator. Across all three sites our volunteers gravitated towards working on the mobile app for Mifos X, tackling it from all different angles of smartphone solutions including native apps for Android and iOS as well as cross-platform apps via Titanium and PhoneGap. We made some solid progress on the actual apps that is nicely summarized on our HackPad which tracked the weekend’s activity. We now have a working iPhone app that supports logging in, retrieving a list of clients and displaying a summary of their loan accounts (watch the demo!). On top of that we have a native Android app that supports on and offline authentication and syncing down office data.  All these apps serve as great starting points as full-fledged mobile applications on top of Mifos X.

social coding cosm hp

Aside from this great progress, John Woodlock summarized the two main takeaways from the weekend quite well.

  1. Mifos X is Mobile-Ready – we demonstrated that through the API new developers are easily capable of building mobile/tablet apps and any new interface to access the Mifos X back-end.
  2. Mifos X is a Platform that enables volunteers – this weekend we planted the seeds for a new wave of contributors to Mifos X. These volunteers across HP  and beyond have seen the power of Mifos X, its potential to serve the poor, and are eager to continue contributing.
Harald, Bennett, Gerardo, and Lulu hack away at RHOK SF.

Harald, Bennett, Gerardo, and Lulu hack away at RHOK SF.

Mifos X is Mobile-Ready As John so clearly recounts:Although it is intellectually obvious that a simple API should be straight-forward to work with, it was good to see that using the Mifos X API from mobile devices is straight-forward.One thing I noticed first-hand over the RHoK weekend was the ease with which John O’Callaghan iOS (iphone) and Brendan Fahey (native android with offline capability) created simple mobile apps. So, there is no technical problem with mobile development. Our message from the RHoK weekend to our Users and Specialists is quite simple. Mifos X is mobile ready.  Here are some example apps to start from.  If you need to mobilize a process we can help you with code and people. To go further, we want actual needs, requirements, and use cases so that volunteers can build something that will be used. We can and will build any mobile application that you need – give us that specific requirement and we’ll crank up the right people to provide the solution needed. But we must build on-demand rather than in anticipation. We need our MFI users to own their business process development. We can spark ideas and your specialists can assist with mobile strategies but we need you to bite the bullet and actually implement a mobile solution for it to pay off. The current Android client for Mifos 2.x is a beautiful and robust full-fledged app but unfortunately it’s not being used.  We want to build solutions that solve your problems and get used. Any additional mobile development will need to be requirements-driven. We stand ready to help deliver a strong mobile app so send us your requirements and commit to testing and implementing these mobile apps. (we also made some good connections over the weekend to help in getting smartphones donated – so if you’re interested, let me know!)

Growing the Next Wave of Contributors to Mifos X

2012-12-01-17.13.37-577x1024A fundamental part of the new product development strategy for COSM is a true community-driven collaboration model that engages to the fullest extent our external ecosystems of Specialist and volunteer conributors. We want to be the maintainers of the core platform and coordinate the community in extending it.  RHoK was an important proof point to test out a number of things: 1) participation in a hackathon, 2) partnership with Social Coding 4 Good and 3) the creation of a long-lasting engagement corporate volunteer engagement with HP. While we still have kinks to work out in the random participation of a short-term weekend-long hackathon, we were delighted to work with Social Coding 4 Good and extremely pleased with the interest and motivation we cultivated with the employees from HP and the general public who volunteered. We are eager to become a formal partner listed on Social Coding 4 Good’s portal and to continue working with our HP volunteers on longer-term projects. I’m psyched to see the wonderful job that John and Keith did in Ireland – both John C and Brendan want to keep contributing and getting their colleagues to as well. The same can be said for Vishwas and Ashok as the HP teams are interested in continuing on as well. Likewise I’m ready to keeping our small crew of volunteers from San Francisco closely engaged.

Code Output from the Weekend

Here’s a quick summary of the in-progress work from the weekend. All the code is readily available for you to peruse on GitHub.


  • Codebase and Video Demo of the native iOS app built by John O’Callaghan – currently supports logging in and retrieving a list of clients and summary of active loans.
  • Codebase of the native Android app with offline authentication and office data syncing from Brendan Fahy of HP Galway.

San Francisco

Thank You!

Now onto the most important part of this blog post, thanking everyone who contributed!

India (Bangalore/Chennai)

  • Vishwas and Ashok from Conflux Technologies for proudly owning the Mifos problem sets in Bangalore and passionately guiding the team to work towards a world of 3 Billion Maries.
  • Yogi and Praveen from SimpleTechLife for hosting RHoK Bangalore
  • Guru from HP for building up a huge interest in Mifos across his teams in India and for his excellent coordination throughout the weekend – Vishwas is hoping to see you soon at an internal HP hackathon!
  • Vijayalakshmi, Sowmya and Srilatha who comprised the HP Bangalore team who focused on creating a WYSIWYG editor for client-facing documents – they’re now fully prepped on the solution that’s needed and eager to continue work on it – they’ve built some CRUD services for doc templates and made progress on the UI
  • Our HP duo from Chennai – Kannan Ponnusamy and Balamurali Annamalai – who remotely built out a native Android app that can currently create a new client.
  • The pair from HP Bangalore, Smita and Kokila who started work on a Phonegap App.
Vishwas checking in during Day 1 of Random Hacks of Kindness in Bangalore

Vishwas checking in during Day 1 of Random Hacks of Kindness in Bangalore

Ireland (Dublin/Galway)

  • John and Keith Woodlock for helping craft the problem definitions, taking their weekends to lead the volunteers at Dublin and pitching in their own personal funds to cover snacks and meals for RHoK Dublin.
  • Celine from Benetech/Social Coding 4 Good for giving us this opportunity, orchestrating our HP partnership and heroically traveling all the way to Ireland to keep the Dublin event alive and facilitate a mini RHOK.
  • John O’Callaghan for organizing the Dublin event and building out our first Mifos iPhone app (it was working in less than a day in fact) –
  • Brendan Fahy, a mobile app developer from HP Galway who built our offline Android app and is interested in integrating with exisiting microfinance apps his team has previously built.

USA (San Francisco)

  1. Willow and Kristina for facilitating RHoK San Francisco and keeping us energized with food, good humor, and an unbridled passion for guiding all of us to hack for humanity over the weekend.
  2. Gerardo of Benetech/Social Coding 4 Good for sponsorship of our project and cheerfully recruiting participants and promoting the Mifos problem set to on Saturday.
  3. Lulu Lin from HP SF for helping to keep us on track on Saturday and whittle down our mobile user narratives into some solid mobile use cases.
  4. Harald Rudell for his engagement in our project, his invigorated attempt to build a Mifos app on the Titanium framework, and his commitment to unblocking other Mifos contributors throughout the RHoK weekend. Now that we’ve addressed those Titanium bugs – we hope you can continue the work!
  5. Bennett for his deeply insightful feedback and questions throughout Saturday and the great progress made towards a deployable version of Mifos X in Windows Azure – hoping to see you around for a long while and start on that credit scoring module.
  6. Sam Birney for battling a cold to come down on a wet Friday evening for a brief Mifos reunion and to rally hackers behind the Mifos cause.
  7. Oleg who helped with some Titanium issues remotely and will hopefully become a regular contributor to our project.