Each month we’re going to honor one of our top volunteer contributors from around the world. Volunteers commit countless hours of their time, energy, and knowledge into building and extending the Mifos platform to make it accessible to microfinance institutions serving the poor. For the month of Feburary, we’re showcasing the entire team at SunGard Technology Services in Bangalore, India who have been working closely with the Mifos team for the past year helping to strengthen the core Mifos platform, dramatically increase the performance of Mifos for our customers, and providing direct implementation services to our community.
This is a follow-on post to our original post on the widespread reach of open source community back on November 11, 2009.
In that post we explored the participation that open source community enables by allowing our customers, support providers, and technology developers all to communicate in one place to advance a common vision. This time, we’d like to highlight another powerful force that our open source platform and community enables: a local technology ecosystem of Mifos Specialists who can build a market-driven business bringing our software platform to microfinance institutions, implementing and supporting Mifos, and extending it to fit their unique and specific needs.
Jeff Brewster and I had a great time at the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2009 Mentor Summit. We were royally welcomed, well-fed, and given a great springboard for mind-melding with the other GSoC mentors.
The summit was decidedly unconference style: meeting ideas were shared beforehand but the sessions themselves scheduled and run on-the-fly. I wanted to learn more about project hosting since we recently worked the Mifos project through some issues with hosting at java.net (and ended up moving to SourceForge), so I co-hosted a session called Project Hosting Horrors. The session filled up a room and we got useful feedback from lots of projects about what works with hosting, what doesn’t, and ideas on different approaches.
We’ve recently published our listing in the CGAP Software Listings Product Dashboard – the microfinance industry’s centralized place to learn about all the management information systems available for microfinance.Check out our listing for screenshots and an overview of the Mifos functionality. Our full review will be published in January 2010 as part of the second round of CGAP Software reviews.
We’ve also launched UserVoice for Mifos – a tool to collect feedback on our product and our community – send us your ideas now!
The beauty of open source community lies in the open participation and freedom of contribution that it enables. For technology to both reach and be relevant in the regions where microfinance institutions are serving the poor, open source is the means of enabling that accessibility. Within our Mifos community, through open minds and open technology we can deliver technology that accelerates growth across the industry.
If you take a look at who’s in the Mifos community, you’ll see that it’s a diverse group of individuals from all backgrounds from around the world. Our community crosses physical boundaries, cultural barriers, and multiple time zones to unite all with a common vision to collaborate to deliver technology for microfinance.
Let’s meet Jeff Blue and Julia Kurnia, a father and daughter from Washington, DC who implemented Mifos at SEM Fund (Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance) , a microfinance institution (MFI) serving approximately 1,500 clients in Yoff, Senegal.SEM Fund, one of the original Kiva lending partners began in 2004 and expanded to 38 villages in 2006 when Julia, a Portfolio Analyst at the US African Development Foundation joined as a co-founder. When SEM Fund’s needs grew beyond Microsoft Excel, she looked to her father, Jeff, a retired applications and database manager, for support.