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New SAP Community PlaNet Finance Program to Benefit Under-served Markets

We are excited to announce that SAP Community Network (SDN, BPX, and Business Objects) has launched a new initiative to encourage active contribution by the community and help under-served markets. Upon reaching the goal of 3,000 Active Contributors - Moving to Recent Contributions (over 250 points) for 2009, SAP will contribute €200,000 toward programs managed through our newly-announced partner PlaNet Finance, a leading international non-profit organization that provides support services to microfinance institutions in some of the poorest regions of the world.

Through this announcement, SAP Community Network is supporting a broader program where SAP and PlaNet Finance announced today in Paris the strategic, long-term collaboration. The event featured presentations by SAP CEO Léo Apotheker and PlaNet Finance Founder Jacques Attali.. 

Many of you will remember last year that we ran the mark.yolton/blog/2008/05/19/let146s-start-something-for-our-planet-and-its-people that we WFP: We Hit the Goal with a similar monetary donation.    While SAP will continue to support the WFP from other parts of our business, this year SAP Community Network is working with PlaNet Finance for our community challenge.

Opportunity for Direct Involvement

Because of the nature of PlaNet Finance's activities, we are able to add an exciting new element to the program.  In addition to the monetary funding, we are now providing community members hands-on opportunities to apply your technology expertise and see the impact of your influence more directly. Members are encouraged to get personally involved in the work of PlaNet Finance through direct involvement in the problem-solving process. 

We will be opening Forum and Wiki topics for discussions and collaboration around PlaNet Finance activities and field programs.  Over the coming weeks and months, the PlaNet Finance team will engage with the community to pose process-specific challenges, solicit project ideas, and engage the community on specific design and implementation challenges.

Three Major Program Areas to Engage On

SAP will work with PlaNet Finance around three major program areas.  They are:

  • Implement SAP software solutions to optimize PlaNet Finance's operations and processes.
  • Help to redesign and redevelop the current MicroFit Solution as an on-demand version
  • Implement a project in Ghana with the shea nut value chain which leverages micro financing, education and technology to support value chain extensions

Community members are encouraged to participate in any of the three programs where we need specific expertise.  Here's additional information on all three of these initiatives.

PlaNet Finance Operations and Processes

SAP will support deployment of SAP technology for PlaNet Finance's corporate initiatives. SAP solutions will be used to manage PlaNet Finance's corporate activities and network of MFIs, allowing PlaNet Finance to increase the speed and efficiency of its outreach.

PlaNet Finance is currently using SAP Business Objects Crystal Reports software today. The plan is to enable PlaNet Finance by the end of the year to benefit from an end-to-end enterprise software solution provided by SAP - so they can manage their corporate activities and their network of micro financing institutions with increased speed and efficiency.

MicroFit Program

SAP and PlaNet Finance will jointly work on re-developing PlaNet Finance's MicroFit software solution to become an on-demand software solution accessible via the Web. This new version of MicroFit will help Planet Finance provide the tools for Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to manage loans at the lowest possible transaction cost.

Project Ghana

To kick off the joint field initiative, the shea nut value chain in northern Ghana was carefully studied to identify how technology can help improve the incomes and living conditions of the women who pick and process shea nuts into shea butter. Shea butter is in high demand on the worldwide market, as it is a key ingredient in beauty products due to its moisturizing qualities. Although the production of shea butter is one of the most accessible income-generating activities available to rural women in Ghana, their incomes are unstable due to a lack of market knowledge and poor negotiating power.

The SAP-PlaNet Finance project intends to regroup individual shea nut harvesters and producers into cooperatives. The groups of women will be trained in after-harvest nut treatments and improved techniques for shea butter production. They will also have access to mobile phones, which will enable them to organize the logistics for managing orders and facilitate the ability of MFI loan officers to follow-up on loans. Along with the implementation of technology solutions from SAP and PlaNet Finance, this regrouping will help increase yield, improve product quality and enable easier implementation and management of contractual relations with buyers.

Hit The Mark!

SAP Community Network is thrilled to be part of this larger SAP initiative and excited to be offering our community the opportunity for direct engagement. For more information about the overall PlaNet Finance program with links to related information, see the Microfinance and the SAP Community page and watch for more information and outreach in the coming weeks.

Like last year, we will feature a target meter on our home pages showing progress toward our goal of 3,000 active contributors.  As of today, we already have over 1,100 active contributors with many more contributors near the 250 point range as well. To learn how you can join the ranks of our most active contributors and help the community reach the goal, visit the SCN How to Contribute page and start contributing today!