Making Microfinance Viable With IT

Making Microfinance Viable With IT

Problems solved using Mifos, an Open Source management information system designed specifically for the microfinance industry.

Helping Wholesale

Their work has paid off. Ask Razya. During her second year as a Grameen Koota member, she started a small silk trading business, buying material from a wholesaler and selling it at local markets. The business makes her US$1,100 a month -- enough to open a bank account, purchase life insurance and pay for her brother-in-law's wedding. And she's still looking ahead. "Now, my dream is to build a home for my family," she says.

As for Krishna, he's already looking for new ways to serve his clients. Currently Grameen Koota is figuring out how to mine their data. "We understand the profiles of our customers. If we know their requirements, we can tailor products according to their needs," he says. Their work has made Grameen Koota celebrities in the microfinance world. Among other awards, they are on the Forbes top 20 list of best microfinance institutions and they have won the 2007 Pioneer in Microfinance Award.

More importantly, they are also closer to their goals. The new system has allowed them to open new centers faster and meet their target of acquiring 1 million clients by 2012 -- simply by making their processes more efficient. In an October 2007 study by the Microfinance Information eXchange, Grameen Koota scored well on multiple efficiency indices including the number of loans per loan officer. At 728 accounts per officer, Grameen Koota's staff dealt with double the number of accounts compared to their peers in other Indian non-profit organizations. At last count they had opened 51 centers, a far call from the number they had in 2005: a mere 20.

"Grameen Koota has almost 120,000 clients. Every month we disburse about US$695,000 and recover about US$2.3 million to US$2.7 million and these are all in tiny amounts," Krishna says proudly. He likes to point out that "our repayments are so high because people do not want to discontinue this advantage we offer. This is a lifeline for many. Grameen Koota may well be the support system that many have been waiting for."

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