Like anyone in any job in the world, my colleagues don’t like paperwork. But it’s not just them who suffer while they maintain countless records; borrowers do as well. My organization’s greatest strength (ideally at least) is its mission to not just act as a lender, but also as a support system for borrowers. And if my colleagues are busy recording payments and making spreadsheets, they aren’t following up with borrower’s businesses. However, the paperwork is necessary. Borrower payments must be recorded, statistics kept, and reports sent into headquarters.
I came up with a database that automates all of those repetitive reports. Now, for example, when a borrower makes a payment we write down a few pieces of information (name, amount, date) and we’re done. After entering those simple fields, we can now generate dynamic reports for individual borrowers, the region, or eventually even for the entire country with a single click.
After we had that basic functionality in place, we added all of our other information into the database and added a few more features. For example, we can now see breakout reports for borrowers who received loans in specific years, view those who pay bi-annually versus monthly, or see all of the borrowers in certain cities or certain professions. We’re also keeping track of how often we’re meeting with each borrower (minimum of once per month, but the more the better). Perhaps most importantly the automatic reports ensure accurate calculations – which had been a problem previously. Since we have a substantial amount of other information stored as well, we can continue to add functionality as other needs arise (look for an upcoming post on what we’ll be doing with geo-mapping).
Since MS Access is a new application for most of my colleagues and even my fellow PCVs, I spent a lot of time thinking about creating a simple design to try to make the project as sustainable as possible (see some of my thoughts on that subject here). I made lots of buttons, and included shortcuts for each option on each form so that the user doesn’t have to use any tables or queries. I also wanted to make it easy to edit data in case of input error. I think I’ve come up with a good first effort, and the plan is to use the database for the next month in my region to work out the kinks. Once it’s operating smoothly, we’ll head into Ouaga to show the director and hopefully take it nationwide.
More screenshots (with dummy data):