Into(context) is a design research project developed by the Design for Sustainability group of Delft University of Technology and funded by Microsoft Research's Digital Inclusion Initiative. The project reflects the initiative’s goal to understand what role information & communication technology (ICT) can play in creating solutions for overcoming the myriad barriers facing the developing world.
During six months in 2006 design researchers worked directly with Kiva.org and four of its existing microfinance partners in Uganda and Kenya to develop an appropriate technology solution to facilitate the use of their online lending platform. The solution needed to meet the needs of their users and be congruous with the context of East Africa.
Guided by a design approach, the project entered East Africa asking a question rather than arriving with an answer. In order to reflect that technology should fit people rather than the other way around the project went on the assumption that the context, specifically the user, would reveal details necessary to create an appropriate solution. The methodology is defined by a people centered approach, consistent collaboration with the user and producer, and a systems orientation.
The outcome was the development of a cell phone based application dubbed ‘The Miracle Mobile Solution’ or MiMoSo. The MiMoSo effectively eliminated some of the most significant barriers facing the staff in delivering content to the Kiva website. Critical partner information including text and images, can now be sent via Multi-Media Message Service. It allows MFIs the ability to expand their technology resources affordably to accommodate their operations with Kiva. Users submit updates directly over the mobile network without the need for an internet connection.
The MiMoSo feature has since been launched on Kiva’s live website and Kiva is planning a rollout with other partner organizations. The initiative has been aided by a generous gift of handsets from Nokia and additional funding through the Omidiyar network.