Latin America is home to one of the most vibrant and mature microfinance sectors in the world. Many MFIs could benefit from our technology and we could learn from the many pioneering MFIs throughout the region. Unfortunately because of language barriers in both our documentation and virtual community collaboration, the Mifos presence in Latin America has been limited to date. That is beginning to change as Quipu Technology and other service providers expand throughout the region.
Quipu Technology recently went live with the first Mifos deployment in Latin America at Fundación Inversión y Cooperación. Under the umbrella of “Qloud Inclusion” concept for an “Integral Vision of Microfinance for Social Inclusion”, Mr. Oswaldo Lechuga, General Manager of Quipu, is looking to expand across Peru and deliver technology and consulting services throughout Latin America – we’ll detail their plans in a future post with more on Quipu Technology. Oswaldo Lechuga and Milagros Mendoza recounted their experiences deploying Mifos at Fundación I y C in the questions below.
About Fundación Inversión y Cooperación
I & C Inversión y Cooperación, is an international Spanish foundation advancing projects designed to promote social action and development cooperation. The Bolivar family, founder of Spanish companies Expert Timing Systems (“ETS”), Quipu Technology, TechRules.com and Open Sea, is also the founder of I & C, Inversión y Cooperación. The foundation I & C provides several ways to promote social development and investment through new means beyond the donation to generate financial resources promoting recurrent social action projects. I & C Foundation Investment Partnership launched its microcredit program in July 2011 in the Marginal Urban Area Huachipa district of San Martín de Porres – Chosica. In January of 2012 it expanded its operations to the urban area of Tahuantinsuyo district of Independence. In both areas, it has implemented a microcredit program with their socio-economic variables. Currently there are two financial services: Enterprise and Home Improvement which have been widely accepted by the members of each area. It’s preparing to implement additional new services over the coming years. The program is not only financial – it´s also about the social benefits, through which it seeks a comprehensive development of the business, family and environment, making them leaders in their community.
For this important mission, I y C has sought a local partner to provide adequate IT support for the better development of our operations, which is why we have chosen Quipu Technology, as it is a company that from the beginning has been identified with the program and gives adequate support to our needs.
Mifos is a very broad platform that can adapt to our needs, since it handles multiple ways of calculating interest, arrears, penalties, etc. For reporting, both economic and social (PPI), Mifos is the only program in Latin America to include them. This helps us to see the development of the members at the level of life. Besides being a real time software which you only need an internet connection, either fixed or mobile and a desktop PC or laptop. This helps us to keep our headquarters in Spain informed of the work done in both locations: Huachipa and Independence.
How did Quipu deploy Mifos?
Mifos was deployed from December 2011 in a test phase. This testing period exceeded our expectations so we launched the second phase of standardizing the program at both sites. Currently we provide support in the economic, accounting and administration, greatly reducing the time for these activities and allowing more time for field work (evaluation and monitoring) and for the evaluation and development of new products.
Mifos is a very useful tool as long as you have the correct parameters and information daily. Implementation should be in two phases: first, a test with real data and with the participation of managers and users such that they can see the program from different perspectives, and second, a phase of standardization and training of users.
We’d like to reinforce the following:
- The importance of training to our loan officers who have to adapt to a new system
- The importance of support and technological support, as is the case of Quipu technology.
- Be aware that technology is a means to social development and sustainability depends on its proper use.
Mifos goes beyond just technology and software. It fits the model of those MFIs that have a holistic view of customers, considering the family environment, health and education as financial capability. Not only does it make I y C more efficient, it allows segmentation of customers according to their social reality and carrying out monitoring appropriate to achieving this empowerment.