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Documenting Technology Impact: Mifos ROI Model and Case Studies

Report examining the technology return on investment (ROI) realized by deploying Mifos® including a hands-on ROI tool and three in-depth case studies documenting technology ROI at four MFIs.

Technology is critical in building strong organizations that can respond nimbly to changes. It is especially important in the microfinance industry, which has grown rapidly over the past decade to serve more than 190 million people globally.  This series, undertaken through a partnership between The MasterCard Foundation and Grameen Foundation, examines the cost benefits realized by deploying Mifos® at four microfinance institutions and is a step in advancing knowledge about deploying a management information system at microfinance institutions using diverse operating models.

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SolDevelo: Nimble Java Ninjas Fighting Poverty from Poland

soldevelo_1200We want to take the chance to highlight one of the top contributors to our community, SolDevelo, based in Gdynia, Poland. They are a telling example that no matter where you are located in the world, you can play your part towards creating a world of 3 Billion Maries.

Finding talented Java developers is always a challenge, especially given the complex business requirements that Mifos supports. Yet our team is always impressed that whatever project we send to SolDevelo, they quickly and thoroughly deliver a solution of superb quality.  Their nimble team is always up to the challenge, ready and willing to work on new features, fixing bugs, building reports, quality assurance – whatever our users need for a better product. Many thanks to Jakub for writing this post to highlight his team and the work they’ve done on the Mifos project.

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Kongalend Deployment Kicks off in Namibia

The Iniciativa Mifos® Moçambique team recently concluded a trip out to Windhoek, Namibia, kicking off Mifos deployment with the team at Kongalend Financial Services. 

KL-logo-FINAL-wb2Earlier this year, I got several emails from Semba Funda, the IT manager, at Kongalend Financial Services in Namibia. Semba had expressed a strong desire to use Mifos but was in need of a local expert to help them get the full benefits of Mifos.  Kongalend is a Namibian microfinance instutition based in Windhoek providing credit and power loan products to those with limited or no access to financial services. They were looking to streamline their operations and have greater control over what their software could do for their business. Their existing system, LendMaster, had very limited support and was impeding day to day operations; they were confident Mifos was the solution for them. With the Iniciativa Mifos® Moçambique team at their side, they’re now ready for a Mifos solution that will allow sustainable growth for the microcredit activities and expansion to several Namibian regions.

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Conflux hits the road

conflux_11Specialists around the world are independently guiding the adoption of Mifos. Providing local support and implementation services to MFIs is of the many values of the Mifos ecosystem. This is a guest post from Nayan Ambali, a member of Conflux Technologies, detailing a recent Mifos Roadshow, they embarked on throughout Northern India. 
Our roadshow was intended to showcase the functionalities of Mifos to MFIs in northern India. We chose to start with Utter Pradesh (North India state) because of its highly dense population plagued by gender inequality and poverty with more than 40% living below the poverty line. Most of the MFIs are lagging in adopting technology compared to their counterparts in South India.

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Mifos 2.0 and 2.1 – a Closer Look

A closer look at the features, functionality and reporting improvements that we’ve shipped in the Mifos 2.0 and Mifos 2.1 and Mifos Business Intelligence Suite.  

Over the past several months, our team and community has been quite busy – we’ve shipped two major releases and a brand new business intelligence suite offering you powerful reporting tools to analyze the data that has been captured in Mifos.

While we’ve continued to make behind-the-scenes architectural improvements that you might not notice, these releases contain some new functionality that we should take a closer look at.  We’ll start by diving into our most recent release, Mifos 2.1 and then go back to take a look at what was in Mifos 2.0. In a separate post, we’ll look at what Mifos Business Intelligence Suite can do to help you understand your business and how your services are impacting your clients.

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Enabling Social Change through Software Development

The Mifos community would like to extend our congratulations to Ken Banks, the 2011 Pizzigati Prize recipient, for his leadership and innovation in Mobiles for Development through FrontlineSMS. We would also like to recognize Adam Monsen, Mifos software engineer and open source evangelist who we nominated for the award for his fervent passion for open source software and his selfless commitment to empowering users and developers in our community to contribute.  

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The Tides Foundation announced this morning that it had awarded the 2011 Pizzigati Prize for outstanding contribution in public interest software development to Ken Banks, founder of FrontlineSMS. A tip of the hat to Ken for being a true pioneer in the Mobiles for Development space.  Ken’s commitment to openness and user-based design is a brilliant example of what it takes to build a vibrant community. The strong team he’s built, the active community he’s cultivated, and the widespread adoption along with specialized adaptation of FrontlineSMS serve as a blueprint for other open source projects.

Although he wasn’t victorious, we would like to give a pat on the back to Adam Monsen who truly embodies the characteristics of Antonio Pizzigati in helping others realize their dreams through software development.  Adam always has the interest of others at heart and is a true advocate of open source software for non profits, proof that developers can enable social change through software.  Adam breathes life and energy into our communty that makes it hum – whether it’s donning his track suit for a documentation sprint or responding thoroughly to mailing lists posts as our informal Lord of the Listserv, and as we learned today – baking a great loaf of bread ;).

Here are a few snippets from Adam Monsen’s nomination form:

What is the role of software developers in social change?

What if Farmville, an online game with tens of millions of active users, were used to drive social change rather than simply entertain?

The role of software developers in the social change movement is to bring it to scale. Developers have specialized skills and knowledge: they can build tools that unite, organize, and facilitate positive social change at a scale impossible without software.

Consider poverty, and Mifos. Say you are a microfinance bank serving ten thousand poor clients. Your business is growing, and your clients are doing well. You can prove that your bank is helping the poor to rise out of poverty. You want to grow! To get to one million clients, you need software that can efficiently track loans and savings accounts for these clients: calculating interest, reporting on progress, and integrating with other aspects of your business such as accounting so your service at one million clients is better than your service at ten thousand. 

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How has the nominee demonstrated leadership in public interest computing?

Adam Monsen is a dedicated advocate of open source software for the public good. His energy as a lifelong OS evangelist and contributor is visible in his effort to ensure openness and transparency in Mifos development. Looking back on the growth in participation in the community, it wouldn’t have been possible without Adam. He is the grease that makes the community run smoothly. Adam is always involved – activism, documentation, ease of collaboration, improving our software, even helping to resolve legal issues. He is the most active voice on the mailing list; first to welcome a new volunteer and always quick to respond on #mifos IRC.  Every time I search for information, it’s easily found because he has put in place a tool so that all documentation, discussion, and decisions are open, indexed, and available. Adam helps to grow the community too – he initiated participation with Google Summer of Code, led talks at OSCON and on FLOSS weekly, and collaborates with HFOSS projects like OpenMRS. The Mifos software wouldn’t be where it is today without Adam – as the team re-architects Mifos, he makes it’s a priority to incorporates best-in-class open source components to ensure it is robust and actively maintained. 

Ken is in good company with previous winners of the Pizzigati Prize which include our peers, Yaw Anokwa of OpenDataKit and Darius Jazayeri of OpenMRS. We look forward to hopefully joining them in 2012.

Mifos User Meeting – a Big Success!

imagesLast week we held our first ever online Mifos user meeting and it was a big success with 44 people from 12 countries in attendance. Despite some hiccups with the logistics of GoToWebinar, the turnout and participation was fantastic.  The mix of people attending was just what we were looking for – existing Mifos users as well as new potential Mifos users, Specialists supporting MFIs implementing Mifos, and contributors strengthening the Mifos platform. We got to hear some detailed feedback from new users like I.Can Capital Microfinance in the Philppines and valuable insight on product architecture from long-time Mifos veterans like Terry Wong, who is still following our project even after volunteering 5 years ago.

It was the perfect time to share what’s been going on, take a closer look at the new features in our most recent releases, and unveil a huge step forward, the Mifos Business Intelligence Suite.  The questions and feedback were invaluable.  We are definitely going to have user webinars like this again and do it more often, covering more topics that you want to learn about. While planning is underway for a global developer summit in India this summer, we’re also looking to potentially host a global Mifos user conference in a year.  We’d love to know if you’d like to attend in the comments.

Check out the presentation below and our 4 main takeaways from the meeting after the jump!

4 Take-aways

Looking back the user meeting, there were four big take-aways:

Show what we’re building.

Our product team is doing a lot of great work and shipping a ton of new functionality. You, our community,ppi
need to understand and see how that technology works. We showed some screenshots and did a live demo during the user meeting but we need to be more visual and demonstrative about what’s new in the product. It’s easy to read over a list of features and not fully grasp the power of what’s inside and what you can do with Mifos. With Questions Groups, we’ve really opened up the potential to collect rich data and information about your clients; we now have integrated social performance measurement through PPI, and our M-PESA integration is coming just in time as Safaricom looks to roll this out across Africa. Business Intelligence is a major focus for the product going forward; our Mifos Business Intelligence Suite 1.0 is only just the tip of the iceberg. The demo we gave prompted a lot of questions and we’ll soon share more about the new standard reports, the data warehouse, and the exciting capabilities of Pentaho like dashboards and ad-hoc reporting that are on the horizon.

Listen to what you need.

listenDuring the user meeting, we were overwhelmed with questions and feedback across all subject areas. From mobile data entry to accounting integration to offline capabilities to Know Your Customer requirements for India, you had great feedback about where you want the product to go. We really need to listen to what our users need and be agile in building out the product to respond promptly to evolving market conditions. The refactoring of the code into a more modular framework is positioning us to release new features faster. A more layered architecture and framework for plug-ins also means that you, external contributors, can build new functionality more quickly as well. It’s only through a combination of listening, capturing feedback, and a platform that enables our team to develop quickly and external developers to work effectively, that we can evolve our product to keep pace with the microfinance sector. We’re working to build out better mechanisms to capture feedback but for now, read this page on requesting new features and stay tuned to our roadmap for updates.

Get technical.

During the user meeting, we also had a lot of questions about using the product, configuring the product, andhelp
customizing the product. We encourage you to voice these questions on our developer and user mailing lists. There you can get a quick response from our team or any one of our worldiwde users or contributors in the Mifos community. We also have great documentation. Technical and systems admininstration documentation is on our wiki on MifosForge. User documentation and how to configure the product is on mifos.org. Processes and tools for deploying mifos can be found  in our deployment toolkit along with live case studies in our deployment project pages.  If you can’t what you’re looking for, let us know how we can make it more accessible or what you want to see. With that said, you can only get so much help online or through email and nothing beats talking through a problem with a real human being. We’ll try to have more of these user webinars covering different topics based on your feedback – some will be more technical, others more strategic and business-focused.

Share what you’re doing.

Picture Downloas 2.6.10 136From the sheer number of people who were on the call to the growing number of deployments, there’s alot of activity going on in the Mifos community. Unfortunately, most of you probably don’t know about it. During the user meeting, Nayan from Conflux Technologies in India gave an impromptu demonstration of the Offline Collection Sheet Entry module he was building.  It was moving to see how impressed and gracious Duffy, representing Lumana in Ghana, was after learning about this new discovery and connection in the community. For the community to grow, it needs to be aware of this activity; we need to build these connections, which will increase the sense of community and in turn enable more collaboration. If you haven’t, check out some of the social features on mifos.org like our regional user groups and user profiles that we’re using to build community. For the latest news, follow @mifos on twitter, subscribe to this newslog and sign up for our newsletter. We’re also ramping up our presence on other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Here’s just a small snapshot of some recent community activity:

Listen photo courtesy of ky_olsen via Flickr | Question photo courtesy of matt.hutchinson via Flickr.

Mifos Specialist pushes forth in Mozambique

Miguel Jóia representing Iniciativa Mifos Moçambique recently presented Mifos at the 10th anniversary celebration of ICC Mozambique.

A Toast to the Iniciativa Mifos Moçambique

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Building on the 10th anniversary of the ICC Mozambique, members of the Iniciativa Mifos Moçambique presented on the 8th of December their Mifos-related services for various Microfinance Operators, regulators and funders.

The Iniciativa Mifos Moçambique has been in the market since February 2010 and completed in September its first Portuguese Mifos deployment for a Mozambican MFI. Mifos partners, SBS (Miguel Jóia), ICC (Henriqueta Hunguana) and Afrisis (Natu Lauchande) represent this Mifos Specialist providing value-added services for the Mifos platform and expressed their commitment to disseminate and implement the Mifos system in Mozambique and other Portuguese speaking countries.

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Adam Feuer Interviewed by PayPal X Developer Network

Mifos Director of Engineering, Adam Feuer discusses our goal to end poverty, and software’s place in achieving that goal.

20100809_article.mifos_.interview.photo_.Adam-FeuerRecently, Adam Feuer, had the chance to sit down with Matthew Russell of the PayPal X Developer Network for a casual conversation discussing Mifos and how developers around the world can work towards ending poverty by contributing to our software.

Visit the PayPal X site for an edited transcript of the interview or listen to the full conversation in this .mp3 file.

Adam covers a wide range of topics including:

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Uncovering the DNA of a Great Team

Mifos & ThoughtWorks teams discover the keys to successful global collaboration.

bootcamp_art_2Recently the Tech for Microfinance team has been going through the McCarthy Bootcamp, a teamwork laboratory, to help bring our team into alignment and closer to greatness. BootCamp is transforming us into a high-performance team, fully aligned around a shared vision so we can ship a great Mifos product faster to our customers.

Thus far, our team has completed two BootCamps; one with our US-based staff and then a second follow-on BootCamp with our software engineers and professional services staff from around the world. This past May we held our 3rd BootCamp with the newest member of the team Joe McNulty, and four participants from our newest strategic technology partner, ThoughtWorks. Bringing together the ThoughtWorks team from Bangalore with our Seattle staff we aimed to form a strong team that would eliminate the time zone and geographical distances. The following is a highlight of their achievements throughout their 3 day BootCamp:

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