Thursday, March 13, 2014

UOB Showcased at Barcelona Mobile Congress...

The Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona in Spain is more or less the premier annual industry event for all things mobile.

It attracts executive officers and thought leaders of all stripes, along with around 75,000 other industry people from around the world. In recent years, development finance institutions like Gates and the World Bank have also started attending.

At the 2014 Mobile World Congress, VISA has chosen UOB's mHose mVISA to demo how VISA is progressing on the financial inclusion space. They remotely registered a couple of accounts and made a few live transactions to demo how mHose mVISA works, the world's first interoperable mobile and agent banking solution.  I have been updated that it attracted a lot of attention. In the VISA's expression: "The demo was a big hit!" And we honor the Lord for His grace over this project.

Since it was launched in April 2013, mHose mVISA has signed up more than 20,000 clients and 220 agents, conducting more than 50,000 transactions a month worth more than $2 million. mHose mVISA has become a critical component to UOB's Client Service Point (CSP) strategy.

For a related story about mHose mVISA in Rwanda, click here.

 - Jeffrey

Chicken Coop Project in Senegal... Update #1

I have shared Joyce Lee's (our daughter who is serving as Peace Corps volunteer just in case you do not know who she is) chicken coop project as her last project in Senegal. Here is her update #1 and it is encouraging. - Jeffrey

Hello from Senegal--

The Harmattan wind is having its last hurrah so it's quite dusty here. But the mangos are in bloom and we are making progress on the chicken coop.

First step: making bricks. Use a pick axe to dig up some dirt, add water, walk through the dirt/water combo until you have mud (think Lucille Ball stomping on grapes--actually this could be the next spa sensation of the West). Slap it around in a wooden frame until you have a brick. Let it dry for two days. Then repeat, 3000 times. 

The other pre-construction step is to look for rocks for the foundation, two trucks or 30 horse carts full. We have been feeding the horses extra to bulk up for the heavy loads. The masons and the villagers are now hard at work putting it all together. It's a bit slow going as everyone at this farm is doing this on top of regular work (pulling water out of the well, watering, harvesting vegetables, etc.).

But below are some photos for your viewing pleasure. Apologies for the lack of furry friends in this update, hopefully next time.

Until then,

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Setting the scene: the farm. The coop is being built in the back left corner.

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See? Bricks drying at the construction site.

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The mud stomping ground and source of the bricks. Note the horses hulking up in the distance.

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Brick molds and some "boytown" (aka fly) sneakers.

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Abdou, frequent wielder of the pickaxe and hunter of rocks, poses by the fruits of his labor.

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Digging the foundation.

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Foundation in place, the walls are now on their way.

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Other action on the farm: onion harvesting.

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Burgeoning mangoes, an indication that the hot season is en route

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ministry Updates - February 2014 ...P

Pico Hydraulic Power Plant in Nyamagabe
February is a short month, approximately 10% shorter than usual months. So everything seems to go faster than usual. Moreover, I have begun my annual leave a littler earlier than before. So the month was really short to me. Nonetheless, even February made us fully occupied with many blessings that we experienced.

The following were highlights of the blessings we experienced in February:

1. UOB held its Annual Leadership Retreat over February 21-23. We focused on rest, reflection and renewal. To read more about Leadership Retreat 2014, click here.
After the UOB Leadership Retreat 

2. UOB business unit leaders all signed Memorandum of Understanding on their key performance targets. This business practice ensures that we all are on the same page in expectation for performance.

3. UOB made the first truck loan to a dairy cooperative that will benefit almost 170 farmers. To read more about this story, please click here.

4. Rwanda's central bank (BNR) holds its conference on monetary policy and financial stability twice a year. The first of this conference in 2014 was held in February. To read more about this conference, please click here.

5. UOB signed an MoU with Kirehe District, one of 30 districts in Rwanda. This MoU was about collaboration on enhancing financial services available for rural farmers in Kirehe District. To read more about this story, please click here.

6. UOB received several visitors in February. They included OI Germany's Program Director, an insight group from OI US, OI Operations Program Manager, OI Operations Consultant on Spiritual Transformation Metrics, OI Africa Director of Risk, VISA management. As much as clients and UOB colleagues need to be transformed, donors also need to be inspired and transformed through their visits with clients. So we always welcome them to UOB. We consider them a blessing.

7. UOB has been approved to manage up to Euro 4 million for GIZ Energizing Development program to help project developers of village grids and solar lighting over the next two years. It is a great blessing for an opportunity to help bring energy to rural areas and also an opportunity to fund some operational activities of UOB. Praise the Lord!

The last SBA off-line class after 26 session on Hebrews
8. Kristin and I have been serving approximately 35 people of God through Shalom Bible Study over the past five years. The last study was on the Book of Hebrews and this study ended in 26 sessions. Also it was the last session for SBS off-line. Now SBS will go on line. To read more about this story, please click here.

9. I have also been serving God's people through preaching at three places. One of them was Agape Church Rwanda. I shared the last message at Agape Church in February. It was also the 17th and the last session for the series of "Of God" which I have been preaching about. It has been a great blessing to me personally to be of service to people of God. I still have one more chance to preach at UOB.

The cover page of the new book published
10. God has given me a privilege of translating an inspiring and challenging book, titled "The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good" by Peter Greer into Korean.  This book has been published in February. Friends and people of God have responded with warm welcome and it is my prayer that many people get to examine their true motive of doing good through the book. Praise the Lord! To read more about this book, please click here.

11. Prayer Requests:

  • The process of searching new CEO for UOB continues. One candidate is almost finalized and please pray that the process will come to amicable conclusion for smooth transition.
  • The challenges that UOB faces continue hindering the stability and sustainability of UOB's performance. Please pray that UOB will regain the momentum of excellence towards a new level.
  • UOB continues working on T24 R12 model bank migration project. The go-live date has now been rescheduled for May 1st. Please pray that this process will move forward as scheduled so that I may be able to hand it over to the new successor without pending issues.
  • UOB is blessed with opportunities of launching new projects such as GIZ EnDev project, but it is not an easy one but a new and challenging project. Please pray that our staff will draw strength and wisdom from the Lord to be a responsible partner for implementation. Whoever is entrusted must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
  • Kristin and Jeffrey are hoping to take a sabbatical leave in 2014, Lord's willing. Please pray that our hope may be granted to rest, reflect, re-energize and re-focus during this time of sabbatical leave. Please also pray that we may be able to discern the Lord's will among the options presented over time.
  • Joyce is finishing up her Peace Corps volunteering in May. She is seeking the next opportunity and please pray that she may turn to the Lord for His guidance, not just her own desire.
  • Amanda is still in transition along with her husband, James. Please pray that they will handle the transition joyfully and peacefully.
  • We will celebrate my father's 90th birthday in March in Korea. Amanda and James will travel to be part of this celebration. May this time be of joy and appreciation over God's overflowing grace!
We thank you all for standing with us in our ministry.

Gratefully in His service,

Jeffrey and Kristin from Kigali, Rwanda