The Microfinance Interview is a monthly question-and-answer feature through which we engage key stakeholders of the sector such as MFIs, funders, service providers, development partners and regulatory authorities amongst others on issues of topical and mutual interest. This is in recognition of the influential role of microfinance as one of the four pillars of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) alongside financial innovation, financial literacy and financial consumer protection. In this instalment, the spotlight is on Skyburg Systems, which provides a range of integrated digital business solutions and services including software for Microfinance institutions. Sifiso Mtetwa, the company’s Operations Director talks to the MFSB about their Management Information System (MIS),  Mifos X, the minimum end user system resources requirements to use the system, unique selling proposition (USP) as well as the extend of its endorsement in Zimbabwe. Mtetwa also talks about Mifos’ challenges and opportunities in relation to the local microfinance sector in particular and the financial sector in general.

MFSB: Can you give us an overview of your Mifos Microfinance System? What is it all about?
SM: Mifos X is an extended platform for delivering the complete range of financial services needed for an effective financial inclusion solution. It is affordable, adaptable and accessible for any segment of the market – small medium sized or large financial organisations.

MFSB: Who is behind this system?
SM: Skyburg Systems, a forward thinking, new business technology based in Zimbabwe specializing in development for all aspects of information technology through digital development and outsourcing, is behind Mifos X. Formed in 2012, Skyburg brings together a wide skill set across digital technology to ensure that we can both meet and exceed your business requirements. We provide a comprehensive range of professional and highly integrated digital business solutions and services such as Microfinance software, accounting systems, School/College systems and Enterprise resource planning (ERP). All our systems can be accessed either on online or offline.

MFSB: What are the minimum ICT/System requirements for those who want to use your MIS?
SM: The minimal end user system resources include an Internet speed of at least 2Mb/s for smooth navigation, a hard drive of 50GB and a memory of 2GB. The browser can be Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Internet Edge or Opera. Mifos can function on any operating system but requires the latest Android Version for the mobile package.

MFSB: What type of organisations are using this service in Zimbabwe and how many are they, currently?
SM: Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) as well as Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) are currently using Mifos X. Skyburg has deployed a total of 56 instances in total.

MFSB: How long has the system been in Zimbabwe and during that period what partnerships has your organisation forged?
SM: The system has been in Zimbabwe since 2013 and we have so far partnered with the Zimbabwe Association for Microfinance Institutions (ZAMFI).

MFSB: What challenges have you faced trying to penetrate the Zimbabwean market in your quest to service MFIs?
SM: In Zimbabwe there is still little understanding as to the full benefits of Management Information Systems. A good number of financial institutions are still using excel or outdated software. Yet analytical and business intelligent information is very important in reaping the full profits of your services. And the better the system, the more you get out of your organisation.

MFSB: What would you say are Skyburg Systems’ opportunities in relation to Zimbabwe?
SM: We see the potential of hosting most of the financial institutions in Zimbabwe within the next 5 years. As the system evolves into a fully-fledged banking project, Mifos looks forward to serving the banking sector.

MFSB: There are several Management Information Systems (MIS) on offer in Zimbabwe for MFIs. What’s Mifos’ unique selling proposition (USP)?
SM: Mifos provides both cloud-based and desktop installations. It is locally supported, comes with an android app for field officers and is fully customisable. It is the most affordable software of its magnitude. One can also run integrated SMS messaging.