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Mifos - MicroFinance OS

Capitalizing on the success of Grameen Foundation after a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, Mifos modifies the microfinance platform to accomodate many different types of community needs.

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The Scenario

Mifos was originally designed around the Grameen microfinance process, for which Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.  With Grameen’s success, the field of microfinance grew, and with it, the needs of the communities it serves.  While microfinance institutions (MFIs) in India and Bangladesh strictly and successfully follow the Grameen process, other communities in South America, the Philippines, and Africa, wanted more flexibility and functionality from Mifos.

What I Explored

I traveled to Bangalore and Nairobi to follow the loan officers and study their loan process.  It wasn’t until I saw these operations that I fully understood how different the India and Kenya operations are, or the adversity they sometimes deal with like power outages and low-bandwidth Internet connections.  India relied heavily on manual payment collection, which could be prone to fraud, and Kenya was much more automated with mobile payment options like M-PESA, which were much more secure.

The Solution

The biggest change I made to the Mifos UX was to introduce the concept of a user or login-based dashboard with portlets containing large text or graphics.  This helped call attention to particularly pertinent information for the loan officer and allowed them to navigate to a given area based on necessary action rather than forcing them to guess which area needed attention.

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In the original design, there were too many confusing navigation regions:

  • a tab bar across the top to navigate to major regions of the UI

  • Quick start left nagivation bar guiding the user to common tasks (but doesn't indicate if any currently require action)

  • a dashboard on the right for additional actions 

This was so confusing that the main content region is used to explain how to navigate, rather than for any useful content. 

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Mobile Design

This design was also translated to mobile, keeping in mind the needs of users in the field (creating new loans, entering collections, and adding new clients rather than administrative tasks done in the back office) and the abilities and limitations of responsive design.

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VMware Take 3 Sabbatical

This 3-month project was made possible through the VMware Take 3 Sabbatical program.

Read more about this project on the

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