A software programme for microfinance institutions (MFIs) has found a new market in Iraq. The software, which was purchased by an American Louis Berger group, will be used in three microfinance institutions in Iraq. Hans Verkoijen, the executive director Crystal Clear Software Limited, said recently that he was glad that the programme was going to new markets.

"We were a little hesitant to go into the Iraq market in the beginning but we were finally convinced and now we have one of our staff training the will- be users there," he said. Verkoijen said that micro finance institutions, rural banks, village banks and NGOs among others, use the software called loan performer, which was developed in Uganda.

He said that the programme has been in use for eight years and handles savings deposits, shares, time deposits, loans, debtors and creditors among other things. The programme, however, has many options that can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the institution.

It is now a leading product within the micro finance industry because it the best value for money programme because of its features and low costs.A single user version of the programme costs about US $900 with an annual US $180 for maintenance and updates. However small organisations which have up to 500 clients or loans are offered free use of the soft ware. "This is stimulus for the microfinance companies to increase their growth and serve more clients," Verkoijen said.

He said that the product was unique because of the various possibilities it offers, its value for money and also because it has proven feasible in various markets. The product is used in over 160 organisations with more than 300 sites with about one third of those located in East Africa; in Uganda some of their clients include Uganda Finance trust and Feed the children.

The company has contributed a great deal to Uganda's export of ICT, connecting 30 to 40 new clients every year, which has led to a growth of Ush. 511 million in 2006 from Ush 67million in 1999.

East African Business Week