Vancity and the Microfinance wiki.

I am so pleased to announce the new wiki Vancity has launched. It is for the Microfinance community in Canada, and lives at microfinance.ca.

Why did we launch a wiki? Well, in short, we are a longtime Microfinance practitioner wanting to expand knowledge amongst those who are involved with Microfinance in Canada.

We have a product called Circle lending, in which a peer group takes out very small loans together, and help each other to succeed in what are usually home-based businesses to repay their loans together. It is an amazingly transformational product, designed to help lift people out of poverty and give them a new chance.

Additionally, we have a Microcredit Toolkit, which is an open source peer lending model so any institution can replicate it. We were incredibly honoured that Muhammad Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for founding Grameen Bank, personally endorsed our toolkit a couple of years ago.

As you can see, we are deeply involved with the Microfinance model in Canada, and wanted to create a place where we could take the open source concept a little further. So we created and are hosting a wiki where anyone can add information as a practitioner, researcher or follower of Microfinance in Canada, with the aim of growing and evolving a central knowledge repository about the subject.

I think it’s a great example of a very inexpensive solution to create affinity within a specific community. Now let’s see if people find it useful.

I want to recognize the amazing Catherine Ludgate, who manages Vancity’s Microfinance programs, and without whose support this never would have been launched. The second I came up with the idea of a wiki to bring together the Microfinance community, Catherine was enthusiastically on board. If you want to know more, here’s a great article about Catherine.

I also must thank Tim McAlpine and Currency Marketing for creating a wiki that doesn’t look like a wiki. See the screenshot below to see what I mean…

Oh, and PS: Colin Henderson at CommunityLend, I am hoping you’ll be the first to add yourself to the wiki…

microfinance.ca

Interview with me on NACUSO blog.

The Groundswell: Credit Unions Develop Online CommunitiesI had a great conversation this week with Jim Jerving who is a primary writer for the NACUSO blog (National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations).

We chatted about a whole host of ways that credit unions can use social media to open conversations between and among their employees and their members.

Today he published some of what we spoke about on his blog in a post titled The Groundswell: Credit Unions Develop Online Communities. It’s nice to see such a good conversation turn into such a good blog post.

By the way, the purpose of NACUSO is to…

…be the catalyst for instituting collaboration, innovation, and the reinvention of the Credit Union industry.

Posts like this get to the very heart of that purpose.

Thanks Jim!

Discount code to attend Finovate.

Finovate 2008Last October I was lucky enough to attend and live blog at the inaugural Finovate conference. Finovate was started by Jim Bruene, who writes both NetBanker and Online Banking Report. No slouch, he.

I loved attending Finovate 2007, and live blogging it gave me a great perspective on what I was seeing. The format is simple: each presenter gets seven minutes to present their solution or product. No PowerPoint, no speeches, just live demos so everyone can see what they do. You can read my blog posts here, here and here

Jim wrote a post on NetBanker the other day giving the details of Finovate 2008 with all the presenters listed. It’s a great lineup!

This year, Finovate 2008 again happens in New York on October 14th at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. The cost is $995 USD, but if any of my readers want to go and are planning to book by the end of August, the Finovate organizers have given me a special promo code to pass along.

The first five people who go to finovate.com, and use the discount code “azaroff55” will get $250 off the $995 conference cost. It’ll definitely be an event worth attending!

A month ’til BarCampBankBC.

BarCampBankBC registrationI’m starting to get really excited about BarCampBankBC, which is happening the weekend of September 20th here in beautiful Vancouver, BC. It should prove to be an amazing coming-together of some great minds in the world of banking, credit unions, social media, technology, innovation and social responsibility.

With just a month to go, we have 62 people who have signed up on the wiki, but only 30 who have registered and paid. Now 30 is still a pretty decent number, but…

…if you’re thinking of coming to BarCampBankBC, please take a minute to register now!

It’ll make the lives of the three organizers, me, Gene and Tim, a little easier.

Thanks, and see you there!

PS: I’m about to go to Alaska on a cruise with Amy and Ivan (my wife and son), so if I don’t publish comments quickly or at all, please forgive me!

PPS: It’s almost exactly a year since the first North American BarCampBank in Seattle, where so many great relationships and conversations started. A great milestone!

Changing Everything on ChangeEverything.ca

When we first launched ChangeEverything.ca, it was a hectic and amazing time. Not enough time to get everything done. One of the areas I felt we could do better was site usability and overall design. Kate and I always felt like we wanted to go back and make some improvements.

So this year, we blocked out some budget and started working on fixing some of those areas. Among the areas we focused on were:

  • improving the registration flow
  • improving the workflow for adding changes and blog posts
  • grouping social features together so people discover each other and interact easier
  • putting a sharper focus on the people, and not just on the text
  • making the site, well, just prettier

It was a complete pleasure working with Kirsten Hall, an extraordinary usability consultant here in Vancouver, the amazing Tim McAlpine and his team at Currency Marketing on the front end design, and Affinity Bridge a great Drupal development shop in town.

The process, like the original creation of the site, was charmed. Everyone worked together well, there were no real hiccups, and people had a lot of fun.

The upcoming design changes, including as mock-up of the new look and feel, were announced on ChangeEverything.ca today. We’re looking for Beta testers, so check it out and help out if you want.

Otherwise, I’ll let you know when everything launches in September!