The tech team work is just getting started
I joined BeneFactors in April this Year as CTO. My most urgent mandate was to build a new
back-office system on top of which we will then start deploying our innovations to unlock fast
working capital financing to SMEs. Four months down the road, our teams have now fully
adopted a newly built back-office System, Rosling 2.0
I wanted to share our journey towards completing this milestone.
We started from an entrepreneur’s creative use of existing tools to achieve business goals
BeneFactors started its journey of availing Working Capital financing alternatives for SMEs in
Rwanda in 2017 by offering Invoice factoring services. Invoice factoring has existed for ages.
When our CEO and founder @OliviaZank explored ready-made software for factoring, she
couldn’t find any that suited her needs. So she first helped herself with Excel. As the activity
grew, she started building an actual app using the no-code service, Appsheet.
She did an excellent job! The first version of our back-office, that we named Rosling (Hans
Rosling is a swedish scientist, co-founder and chairman of the Gapminder Foundation, which
developed the Trendalyzer software system), helped the teams keep things on track, access
meaningful reports and receive relevant notifications.
We decided to build technology in-house
The growth and scalability of our innovations, products and business will strongly depend on our
ability to deliver the technology in a fast-paced manner. We have embarked on a journey to
build a technology team fully empowered to apply their skill set in building technology in an
environment with as little constraints as possible. We need the technology delivery process to
flexibly and swiftly deliver:
– Adjustments to business processes as we learn new ways of providing our services
– Interfaces for our different stakeholders to interact with our systems and business
– Integrate with other digital systems to enhance our ability to know and interact with our
We chose a modern framework
As our framework, we chose Frappe which is a full-stack web application framework written in
source ERP, ERPNext but is pretty generic and can be used to build database-driven apps.
Beyond being a tremendous server-side Python framework, Frappe has a rich AJAX-based
client library and also supports socketio.
We already know that the future of our business will be heavily data and machine learning
driven. Python’s rich ML, Data Analysis and visualization libraries such as Tensorflow,
Scikit-learn, NumPy which will be invaluable to achieving our goals.
While we prioritized architecting and building the backend, the Frappe’s rich AJAX still allowed
us to offer an enjoyable UI experience to our users.
But all in all, Frappé’s architecture is just so beautifully crafted. Understandably, it’s adoption is
growing fast, including in the fintech space with companies such as https://zerodha.com/ (The
leading online stock trading company in India)
We built fast and migrated users faster
I started building our back-office product, Rosling 2.0, at the beginning of April. Early May, I was
joined by my colleague Victor who focussed on writing the algorithms to migrate data from past
systems into the new back-office system. We intended to have our users instantly and
accurately finding every single record they’ve entered in the last 3 Years. On the 1st of July, we
locked the old systems and pointed our users to the new Rosling 2.0.
Most of the user research, the training, the user-testing was done during the lockdown and
happened remotely. As we migrated our users, it appeared that we needed to complement the
remote experience with some in office support. We decided to start going to the office a few
days a week. Today, all our activity is running within Rosling 2.0
We can start focussing on building the future
This phase was a required stepping stone for us to start working on really cool stuff like:
– Digitizing most of our interactions with the customers
– Applying data science to improve our risk mitigation and accelerate our processes
– Achieving integrations with our ecosystem players to become a fully paperless financial service
The work is just getting started!