Mifos OSCON Recap

oscon2014_logoIt’s become an annual tradition for our Mifos team to gather in Portland for a week of reaching out to new contributors and immersing ourselves in the latest in open source technology and communities at OSCON. This year we had a busy week with the Community Leadership Summit, our quarterly Mifos Initiative board meeting, an exhibition booth in the non-profit pavilion and a speaking slot on the Business and Javascript tracks at OSCON.

Once again throughout the hallways and in our conference booth, our initiative was very well-received. In general, the sector is  familiar with microfinance and their curiosity is piqued when they discover our initiative, an open source platform for delivering financial services to the poor. This year I noted a larger presence of financial services people more heavily involved in open source, including regulators, payments providers, and those involved in alternative currencies like Bitcoin. We are interested in bringing to bear their skills in both open source technology and financial services.

Discovering new contributors

OSCON is one of our best chances to discover brilliant talent that is ready to contribute to our project or build out new innovation on our platform.  This year was no different as we met some stand-out folks including:

  • Heather VanCura from the Java Commuity Processes team who was eager to see us get more involved in the Java community
  • Scott Chacon, co-founder and CIO of GitHub and author of Pro Git, who showed a good interest in our project when he stopped by our booth. GitHub has done amazing things for our collaboration and we’d love to share our story further across their expansive community.
  • Edwin Aoki, chief Architect of Paypal, whom we’re looking forward to collaborating with and finding ways for their engineers to contribute to our platform.
  • Robyn Chau, Events Program Manager at Mozilla, whom we’re hoping will help us roll out our network of local Mifos chapters.
  • Chris McClimans aka Hippie Hacker, a DevOps Specialist who has forged a sustainable consulting practice that allows him to donate an hour of time to non-profits for each hour of paid work he does.

Hippie Hacker

Reconnecting with friends and supporters

OSCON seems to be the one time each year where we can reconnect with all our friends and supporters in the HFOSS and general FLOSS space. It was nice to:

  • Meet face to face for the first time with Emma Irwin, our community manager extraordinaire from Social Coding 4 Good. She also was busy wearing her Mozilla Rep hat too!
  • Catch up with Michael Downey and Paul Biondich from OpenMRS and be reminded how much more we need to collaborate as we go down similar paths as non-profit 501(c)3s seeking funders and building out our partner ecosystems.
  • Meet Vidya from Ushahidi and get to see and feel their BRCK for the first time.
  • Say hello to Randal Schwartz to thank him for our interview on FLOSS Weekly and the support from the Linux Fund.
  • Chat briefly with Brian Behlendorf  and see him on the CLAs: Best Thing Snce Sliced Bread or Tool of the Devil panel 
  • Catch up with Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler from the Software Freedom Conservancy.
  • Visit with Dave Neary and Zaheda Bhorat before our quarterly board meeting (OSCON was where we first met). They are both in high demand in at OSCON so it was hard finding time in their busy schedules.
  • Share our amazing Google Summer of Code  experiences with Cat Allman, Carol Smith, and Stephanie Taylor


Google Summer of Code celebrates ten years

The Google Open Source Programs office  were able to celebrate their ten year anniversary and the astounding reach and impact GSOC has had in Carol Smith’s Keynote. Their wall in their lounge in the Expo Hall was a powerful way to show the more than 400 organizations that have participated in GSOC over the past decade. We are so lucky to have been one small part of this. It was nice to sit down and spend time recounting the successes of our GSOC graduates during the GSOC-led Birds of Feather session in downtown Portland. Of our 2013 class, one is now interning at Amazon and the other three have taken full-time jobs as open source developers!

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Fighting Poverty with Financial Inclusion (and light sabers)

Led by our Marketing and Data Analysis Intern, Ollie Janders, our booth was charged with energy and excitement for fighting poverty with financial inclusion that spilled over to those who stopped by. We got our most volunteer/newsletter signups that we’ve had at OSCON and did a wonderful job of building awareness about our initiative.



Bringing Banking to the Poor with the Help of AngularJS

We were privileged to have Vishwas Babu selected as a speaker for OSCON.  In his talk, Bringing Banking to the Poor with the Help of AngularJSVishwas focused on why we chose AngularJS as the SPA framework for our Community App and how it’s enabled collaborative development and rapid UI creation as we build out our suite of products on top of the Mifos X platform. Vishwas’ talk attracted more than 50 individuals and the anticipation was so great that it knocked the power out in the room 🙂 He overcame the technical difficulties to deliver a compelling talk. View the slides at slideshare.net and we hope to have a copy of the full video soon (small snippet of Vishwas’ talk on Youtube.


Community Leadership Summit

Prior to OSCON, we attended the Community Leadership Summit – an annual unconference-style gathering of Community Managers started by Jono Bacon which continues to grow in participation and depth of content.  There were quite a number of enriching sessions on topics including building community in developing countries, onboarding new contributors, the value of building barriers to contribution,  the pros and cons of CLAs, and more. This was Ollie’s first CLS so he’ll be writing up a brief blog post which captures everything he learned.



Some highlights of the rest of our time in Portland including some of the fun and quirky OSCON parties, a Timbers game, and some downtime in Portland, see this photo album on Google+.

Thank you to O’Reilly

Thank you to O’Reilly for putting on another stellar event and for allowing non-profits like ourselves to have a booth. Without that generosity we wouldn’t be able to have such a direct connection with the attendees at OSCON. A special thank you to Michael Iritz and Shirley Bailes for letting us use a vacant room for our board meeting prior to the start of daily sessions on Wednesday.


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