Undoubtedly, we live in a fast-paced world where we are constantly trying to meet our goals efficiently and within the shortest time possible. The flexibility of an organisation in adopting technology determines how effective it is in realizing its objectives. Automation saves time, money and headaches! When adoption is done right and accepted by the intended users, it transforms a wide range of other processes such as customer relationship management, marketing, regulatory compliance and even cyber security. In the development world, it is not only about taking technologies and blindly applying them in projects. It is paramount to question the intervention models; considering the environment, facilitation capacity and sustainability.
In 2017, the Inclusive Finance Programme (IFP) introduced automation into two of its interventions dealing with Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) and Community Savings & Lending Groups; commonly referred to as mavuno.
‘We examined how the savings groups were documenting their financial transactions and realised we needed to introduce an easier, transparent and reliable way of record keeping. The manual data entry was tedious and had a lot of room for error. We recognized the clear impact of automation in accounting. This drove us to consult the expertise of software developers who came up with two user-friendly applications called Chamasoft and Sacco Advantage which we plan to introduce to various SACCOs and mavuno groups,’ says Helen Masinde, a project coordinator attached to the IFP programme.
Swisscontact plays the facilitatory role in identifying the software developer, monitoring and testing the applications, overseeing proper data migration and confirming effective capacity building of champions. Once champions go through training, they are equipped to share knowledge, supervise and mentor other project beneficiaries consequently increasing adoption.
By the end of the project phase in December 2020, the IFP team aims to have the Chamasoft App accessible and fully in use by at least 1,500 project beneficiaries and the Sacco Advantage by at least 8 SACCOs. Both applications will improve the recording of transactions, enhance the transparency and security of each transaction history including loans, contributions, fines and investments. The software consultant’s role is not limited to the development of the applications but also includes monitoring performance, adaption to the different environmental conditions and training of champions.
The automation process has already begun, and the target users are excited about it. ‘We have started compiling our client information in preparation for the training and integration into the Sacco Advantage application. It is exciting that the software has a large capacity and will be able to properly store our client’s information on a cloud-based system. We are eager to go through the training and begin using the app that promises a real-time and transparent record keeping experience,’ says Patrick Maina, the chairman of the Nabosa Housing Cooperative Society.
The application is currently being used by different project beneficiaries in Kenya; specifically, in Baringo, Nyandarua, Kilifi, Laikipia, Makueni, Nakuru and in Tanzania in the Mwanza region.