COSM equips MFIs with software, tools, support, and processes needed to effectively deliver microfinance.
The poor receive financial services from thousands of microfinance institutions (MFIs) spread out across the globe. Each MFI operates like a bank, but with a much more hands-on relationship with each client, to facilitate the group formation, training, and peer solidarity that make microfinance such a powerful tool for empowering the poor.
Some of these MFIs are large, serving hundreds of thousands of clients but many are small and are still using spreadsheets or pen and paper to operate. Imagine running a bank without software!
This is where Mifos comes in. Mifos is the software powering an MFI. It is a web-based management information system (MIS) used to manage clients, process transactions, organize groups, and track loans and savings accounts. Field staff enter client and loan data into Mifos and manage groups while management reviews the information generated in reports to make operational decisions, measure social and financial performance, and report back to funders. MFIs often operate in remote environments with intermittent power, no connectivity, and little support so Mifos has been built to be flexible and adaptable to these environments.
Mifos is unique in that it’s open source and supported by a community. To make Mifos usable and responsive to the needs of the poor, COSM does the following:
Make software freely available and accessible:
Software can achieve its widest impact if it is freely and openly available to be downloaded, installed, and maintained on an ongoing basis. COSM guides the community in making regular open source releases of the Mifos software freely downloadable, fully documented, and available in multiple formats that suit the rugged environments where MFIs operate.
Design to serve the base of the pyramid:
Software must be accessible when and where it is needed the most – at the point where MFIs are directly serving the poor. COSM ensures the product roadmap is user driven, the software is easy to use, the technology is flexible enough for the community to add new features and incorporate social performance metrics, and Mifos is available online, offline, and via the mobile phone.
Help MFIs support themselves and each other:
COSM maintains open documentation and provides self-support tools so MFIs can successfully use the software. Our users face common problems so we provide online tools and communication channels so they can connect, collaborate, and collectively answer each other’s questions.
Educate and adopt best practices:
COSM carries on the rich history and experience of Grameen Foundation’s Technology for Microfinance Initiative. We publish self-guided training materials, toolkits, screencasts, and guides to promote best practices across technology implementation, microfinance business processes, and social performance measurement.
Connect MFIs with local support:
COSM not only builds up the internal capacity of MFIs, we connect them with trusted local service providers to support them. COSM provides tool for MFIs to directly connect with local support and hosts virtual and in-person meetings to further regional collaboration.
Copyright 2012 - The Community for Open Source Microfinance