Thoughts on MIX Relaunch
At the end of last year, the MIX (Microfinance Information Exchange) relaunched their website with the help of the MasterCard Foundation (click here for their official press release). For those familiar with the MIX, you’ll know that they have implemented some major changes in the last few months culminating in this relaunch. All in all, I’m very impressed with the new look and more importantly, the increased functionality of the website.
The data from the MIX has been an invaluable resource for us here at MicroFinance Transparency. Before tackling in-country operations, background research is essential, and the MIX market offers a great platform from which to gain a broad swath of information about MFIs and other microfinance stakeholders. I tend to use the MIX mainly for gathering information on MFIs, so with this in mind I’ll offer a brief review of some of my favorite features:
- When you first click on the “Microfinance Institutions” tab, you are directed to this nifty map. It’s a great user-friendly way to graphically sort information. It is often useful to divide MFI’s by market/country, so it is natural that this should be the dominant sorting method. The map is not only visually appealing, but it’s much less tedious to click on a map than to sort or scroll through a long list of countries… and for those of us that aren’t looking by country, there is a convenient search bar above, and a regional breakdown offered below.
- If you click through to a country (e.g. click here for the country page for Morocco) you come to my favorite part of the redesigned website: the customizable data chart available for each country. For all the sleek design and interesting graphs, the most striking element of the redesigned MIX site is the easy availability of the data. The MIX makes it even easier to select most of the key data points it collects from institutions and display the data it in a convenient and customizable chart (that can be easily copied and pasted into your own data editor). Previously, the list of comparative data you could pull up in such a chart on the MIX was rather limited and included some more esoteric indicators while leaving out some key financial ratios. It seems they have streamlined the comparable indicators to a list of 29 of the most useful. You still can’t compare all the data, and if anything I’d like to see them expand this customizable chart even more… but its functionality is great. True, as more and more data categories are selected the chart can become somewhat cumbersome, extending far off the right side of the page. But this is a small price to pay for such readily available information.
- A little tip related to my last point: it took me a little bit of exploring to figure out, but you can actually download all 29 indicators for all countries at once via their “Indicators” page. Great for those of us who would like to use the data set for between country comparisons!
- Clicking through to the MFI page we can see details about each MFI including graphs of performance over time. As another example of the MIX’s increased commitment to data sharing, clicking on the “Data” tab reveals a “Download Data” button at the top of the page, allowing users to directly download a CSV spreadsheet with the MFIs data over a selected number of years. Or you can choose to “Create a Report” providing a visually appealing, print-quality version of the data viewed online.
There are many, many other features of the new MIX site that deserve mentioning, and I will try to post some more opinions in upcoming posts, but for now suffice it to say that I am most impressed by how easily available they have made their data. I think this kind of easy availability is a crucial component to having the data make a difference.