Innovative use of email forms in rural Africa

The Microloan Foundation – working in rural Africa – find an innovative use for Email forms

The Microloan Foundation provide loans, support and mentoring to people who would otherwise have no access to financial services. Running businesses supports natural individualism, pays for food and education and is fully sustainable.

An organisation which lends millions of pounds in small loans to women in Rural Africa, has to make sure it keeps good records. Tracking which loans have been made, which repayments had been received, how much money is still available etc is a vital part of managing micro-loans. But getting information from remote offices back to head office can be difficult. Errors in paper forms can add a delay of two or more weeks while the form is returned to be corrected and resubmitted. Management reports can be weeks or even months out of date by the time they are fully compiled.

The Microloan Foundation came to Davton – the Outlook Development Specialists – to ask about an innovative solution they thought might work.

The Microloan Team from the Kasungu branch
The Microloan Team from the Kasungu branch

Outlook Forms and Email – the perfect combination

Microloan Foundation wanted to use Microsoft Outlook and email to solve the communication problem. Davton listened to the requirement, and designed two Outlook add-ins to manage the communications.

Vital information on each loan and repayment is entered using forms created in Microsoft Outlook by Davton. The data from the forms is converted to emails. Because the emails can sit in the outbox until they are able to be sent, it doesn’t matter whether there is any internet connection at the time when the data is entered. The data just waits until there is a connection,and then travels safely on its way.

At head office another piece of software monitors new emails arriving, retrieves the form data from the emails and automatically adds it to the loan management database. Further automation allows reports generated centrally to be returned from the head office to regional offices by email. The whole system provides a reliable means of communicating, despite potential glitches and lack of infrastructure.

Olivine Kayamba, Branch Manager, Kasungu branch, Microloan Foundation Malawi said: “We’ve had a big reduction in paperwork thanks to the software Davton developed for us. That means we can dedicate more time to support the women we work with.”

Microloan Foundation Offices Kasungu
Olivine at the Microloan Foundation Offices Kasungu

Constance Mlauzi, Loan Officer, Kasungu branch, Microloan Foundation Malawi: “The tool Davton has developed for us is a very user-friendly and my work is nowadays much easier as a result. Thank you very much Davton for your software.”

Constance at the computer using the new software
Constance at the computer using the new software

Peter Ryan, CEO, Founder and Trustee, Microloan Foundation: “Davton’s software has put the finishing touches to our MIS. It has offered significant efficiency gains for our organization and we are really grateful to have received their generous support.”

Peter with Kadwala group clients holding their loan money
Peter with Kadwala group clients with money

David Tongeman, CEO, Davton Ltd, UK said: ‘I’m really pleased to have been a part of supporting what Microloan Foundation is doing. I am a huge believer in helping people to help themselves, and in business as a way of building and supporting communities. I hope and pray that through the efficiency savings you are making, Microloan Foundation will be able to work with even more people supporting micro-businesses and building stronger communities.

For more info on Microloan Foundation: