After two weeks of travel, I am happy to be home. The visits were totally worthwhile. I learned a whole lot about how these microfinance institutions operate and how different the India operations are from the Kenyan ones. Without seeing them in action, I would not even have known what questions to ask.
M-PESA (m for “mobile”, pesa is Swahili for “money”) is a mobile-phone based money and microfinance service offered by Safaricom in Kenya. According to Wikipedia, it is “the most developed mobile payment system in the world. M-Pesa allows users with a national ID card or passport to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money easily with a mobile device.”
Missions of Hope is located within the Pangani Slums in Nairobi. They provide child sponsorship, education for both children and parents, and support for building a business through their microfinance operations. It turns out their use of Mifos as their MFI platform is very different from the MFIs in India.
First day in Bangalore I visited the Grameen-Koota head office, where I got a feel for the issues that they are facing with respect to upgrading and keeping financial records. Second day was a visit to the field. Grameen mostly deals with group loans, so their model is that each day a loan officer goes out to a center (kendra) to meet with 2 or 3 groups. In urban areas, such as Bangalore, most center Continue reading
My bio is now added to the Mifos community blog. So happy to join the team!
Not much to report at the moment:
- Beginning travel arrangements to visit Mifos clients in India and possibly Kenya so I can better understand how they use the Mifos software and under what conditions (i.e. constant interruption? slow internet? language difficulties?)
- Formulating questions to ask users from my reading of the functional specs and user manual.
When Ed, the community manager, sent me a link to the “New Microfinance Handbook”, I opened it, saw that it was a 533 page reference tome, and promptly set it aside promising myself I would read it, ahem, “later”.
Wow, what a surprise! My hat’s off to the authors for taking what could be very dry material and making it readable. The personal stories really help to imagine what these people’s lives are like and how they save and invest.
“Met” the Mifos team today. When I say “met”, I mean that I talked with them via Skype while looking at little pictures of them. The community manager is on the West Coast, the architects are in Ireland, and the engineers are in India. A real “global” workforce.
There should be a word for “meeting” someone electronically. E-meet? iMeet? vMeet? (That would be a virtual meeting for you non-VMware folk :-)) There’s gotta be a good word for this that’s not already been coined. Suggestions?