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.
Recently in some discussions regarding building online community with Ken Banks, the founder of FrontlineSMS, we both came to the realization that the impact and reach of community finally sets in once you can see users from around the world responding to and supporting each other independently.
For Mifos, that breakthrough really came to light earlier this year when for the first time we had all our original customers on our mailing lists actively supporting each other. It was quite powerful to see Polly Najori, the IT Manager for Jitegemea Credit Scheme, a small microfinance institution in Nairobi, Kenya, answering the questions of our own implementation manager, Ryan Whitney, in Manila along with sharing advice to a fellow MFI in Northern India.
Polly Najori discusses how rewarding it is to give and get support in our worldwide Mifos Community through the Mailing Lists
While responding to a questions or providing a personal tip is so simple, this sharing of knowledge makes it clear that community-driven technology can be a breakthrough for microfinance. It is on the Mifos platform where guided by a common goal to eliminate poverty through technology-enabled microfinance, we can bring together open source technologists with microfinance practitioners to demonstrate that open source solutions have great value for the developing world.
By their very nature, both open source community and microfinance share common philosophies – solidarity and peer support, giving back and empowerment, grass-roots innovation and the drive to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit, along with the freedom and openness to participate and have an impact.