Star Contributor of the Month – Gayl Kennedy

For the month of August, we’re showcasing Gayl Kennedy who while leading the deployment of Mifos at Fantsuam Foundation in Nigeria, has provided a critical and discerning voice to help us improve the Mifos product.

Gayl Kennedy - Ireland/Nigeria

Each month we honor one of our top volunteer contributors from around the world.  Gayl is our first member of the Mifos implementer community to be recognized as our Star Contributor of the Month.  Since joining our community, she’s been an active participant on the mailing lists, helping to locate bugs and identify design and usability improvements through new feature requests

Gayl Kennedy – Tipperary, Ireland (currently in Kafanchan, Nigeria)

Brief Bio: Gayl is on a six month assignment at the Fantsuam Foundation in Nigeria to implement an MIS system including Mifos for this NGO. She is working as a volunteer through the international NGO Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). Her previous experience has mainly been in the EMEA Operations Centre for a large software company based in Dublin, Ireland where she worked as a project manager on many system implementations – order management, sales tracking, MRP, scorecards etc.

Relevant Skills/OS Experience: PRINCE2 project management, MBA and Engineering degree. Volunteered with Camara in Ireland and Africa in 2008 / 2009 to provide computer training on Linux/Open Office to schools receiving refurbished computers from Ireland loaded with OS.

Discovering Mifos: Fantsuam Foundation had identified Mifos as a good fit for their needs prior to her arrival as they implement the Grameen model there.  After some research on the internet prior to traveling to Nigeria, she has been using it every day since June.

Gayl’s Impact:

Contributions Made to Date: Gayl has lost track of the number of emails she has sent to the mifos-users alias asking or responding to queries but has been a power user of MifosForge, having logged 16 enhancements / bugs. She has identified bugs in our reports and posted for community support, enhancements requests to enforce saving/loans collateral ratios, increase the number of loan cycles in our counter, and a number of other requests to improve overall usability.

It’s essential that we hear the voice of you the community! Reporting and capturing the details of your feature requests and bugs as JIRA tickets in MifosForge, helps us know how we can make our software better. Follow Gayl’s lead and do the same.

Current Projects: Implementation of Mifos at the Fantsuam Foundation, Kafanchan, Nigeria. Due to complete her work in December 2010. Currently in pilot mode with 1 field officer’s data.

Impact on the Poor: Fantsuam Foundation currently supports over 1,000 clients with group loans. Over 15,000 have benefited since it started as an MFI in 2001. The implementation of Mifos will help this MFI go from strength to strength. On a broader level, Gayl’s involvement with the Mifos community will increase her impact to multiple MFIs in many countries, including Nepal where she had a previous VSO assignment in 1992 (as a lecturer in Food Engineering!)

What’s Rewarding about Working on Mifos:

“I have really enjoyed being part of the Mifos community and will remain on the mailing list when I return to Ireland as I may be able to help newcomers. It was my first experience of an open source deployment and I am proud of the contribution I have made to the community.”

Advice for Others in Mifos Community:

“Keep an open mind to problem solving to find workarounds and as appropriate log an enhancement request so that future versions may incorporate those suggestions to make the system better for everyone.”

Fun Facts about Gayl:

Favorite Food: A hard question to answer as I have been 15 weeks in Nigeria away from all my favorite foods so readily available at home! I am a dessert person so I have to vote for pavlova or baked alaska or basically anything with meringue!

Favorite Open Source Project: Mifos, Edubuntu (a great educational package which I used while volunteering with Camara).

If Gayl Could Travel to One Place in the World: New Zealand in 2011 for the rugby world cup!

Interesting fact about Gayl:  I am honored to be the third Tipperary person to be recognized by Mifos! For a small county in Ireland, Tipperary has had a significant impact on Mifos! And we also won the All Ireland Hurling Championship this year. John and Keith Woodlock were our two past Tipperary honorees.

Please visit Gayl’s LinkedIn profile to learn more about her.