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SMALL FARMER MICROFINANCE SOFTWARE SYSTEM By Mr Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe 1 w w w . c d 3 w d . c o m / s f m s s /

Small Farmer microfinance software system

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Small Farmer microfinance software system. By Mr Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe. Major Features. Project written in Nairobi Kenya 2007/02 – 2007/03 Programmed in postgres 8.2 using mainly EMS software product to debug stored procedures - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Small Farmer microfinance software systemBy Mr Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe


1Major FeaturesProject written in Nairobi Kenya 2007/02 2007/03Programmed in postgres 8.2 using mainly EMS software product to debug stored proceduresProgrammer had lots of sql server experience, some oracle experience, zero previous postgresSystem written under windows, to be run under linuxSystem would have java front endSystem composed of postgres functions running in a loop with a sleep command, waiting for incoming sms and email messages to appear as rows in a table


2System was designed to partially automate interactions between the microfinance organisation, the agrobusiness company (Bidco of Kenya oilseed and sunflower specialists), and a number of farmers groups (average size 25 small farmers, with approximately 1 acre (0.4 hectare) each)Automation was done by structured smss sent from the leaders of these farmers groups to the system, which then made decisions based on a heavily parameterised management module and communicated automatically or semi-automatically to the farmers groups, the bank, Bidco, and the stockists of agricultural inputs (seed and fertiliser)The system allowed a very few admin personnel (e.g. 2) to effectively deal with a large number of farmers (e.g. 20,000). The result would be a microfinance system which was efficient and non-exploitative towards the farmers, and which would have all kinds of useful management reporting built in.


3Interface with bank was the most primitive aspect Equity Bank Kenya had electronic banking, but in 2007/03 still no facility for bulk payment through file submission, therefore system instructed payments to be done to web screen, accountant did manual payments through his e-banking web screen, then produced statement, which was copied and pasted back into the system for checking and loggingIt was planned that future capability would include bulk payments from file4www.cd3wd.com/sfmss/

4Lessons from the projectProject design and system design had been scrappy/faulty, although programming capability of Kenyan software house (www.verveko.co.ke) seemed goodProject design had been faulty from both sides the NGO which commissioned the project and also Verveko.There are distinct advantages from building fat server systems, especially using SQL as the main programming language the longevity and interoperability of SQL is high compared with client side languagesIt is fun to build systems which are socially useful as well as being technically elegant and efficient5www.cd3wd.com/sfmss/

5Where from here?As far as I know, the project was never completedBut the system had a lot of good features and capabilityA large part of the problem lies with the aid and development community, which seems to have an aversion to running projects which succeedThe World Food Program (WFP/PAM) is currently starting a project in 19 countries called Purchase for Progress (P4P)P4P has a plan to include assistance with inputs (seed and fertiliser)I am trying to get through to WFP that the system built for prideafrica.com / drumnet.com in Kenya can be used as a basis for a P4P Inputs System6www.cd3wd.com/sfmss/

6The source code and database structures (and contents of parameter table) are to be found at www.cd3wd.com/sfmss/I am interested in building an online version of the system for use globally either free or for a small charge per transaction. One hosting could typically be used by 20 schemes in 8 countries (or 200 schemes in 80 countries).The main obstacle at the moment is the lack of low-cost SMS Gateway services which can be used in conjunction with such systemsPossible Zain (formerly Celtel) and other MNPs throughout Africa and the Third World could set up such low-cost or zero-cost SMS Gateway services for non-profit and/or socially desireable operations (the same sms gateway could also operate on a chargeable basis for other businesses see cd3wd.com/smszim/ for ideas and concepts)Of course if we can move to low-cost smart phones with internet capability running off GPRS, then the sms gateway pre-requirement would no longer exist. Such phones are now available for in the region of US$ 80-00 (and hopefully falling), as compared with an sms-capable mobile phone for US$ 40-00.Another obstacle was the attitude of organisations like Equity Bank, who seemed to think that electronic banking was something for corporate clients and middle- and upper-middle-class customers only not something for the common man and woman!Thanks for your time!..... Contact me at cd3wd.com/contactus/ 7www.cd3wd.com/sfmss/