"Pagos Familias", the system that's helping build more emergency homes across Ecuador

In Ecuador, Techo builds emergency homes to benefit more than 600 families per year, each of which in turn pay a minimum amount for each finished home. Working with the community and volunteers, Techo seeks to improve the conditions of poverty in which thousands of people in Latin America are placed. 

The ThoughtWorks Social Impact division wanted to support this initiative. Embracing the opportunity - Techo asked ThoughtWorks to develop a software application that would make it easier to manage the collection of funds through its volunteers.

The collection of funds for housing is conducted by Techo volunteers; formerly a manual process whereby money and receipts were received from a family, and then manually entered in Pilote, Techo's integrated management system. 

The complexity of the system meant that the information was often left incomplete, and not specific enough to differentiate the origin of the funds paid by the families. The loss of this information made it impossible to monitor the accounts that were outstanding. Without a records system, the task of searching and comparing the physical receipts with banking records became tedious. Because of this, Techo Ecuador had approximately $100,000 in accounts receivable, without a real possibility of ever tracking or collecting this money.

They needed a solution. With ThoughtWorks, the team worked iteratively to reach a solution. In each iteration showcase, a prototype was delivered that allowed concepts to be tested, and feedback to be provided. 

Together the Techo directors, volunteers and ThoughtWorkers designed the user interface; the collaborative approach meant live unit and integration tests could be performed before the code went into production - with the final product exactly what they wanted. 

"Pagos Familias" is now a responsive mobile website with which the volunteers and directors can change the payment status and record transactions quickly and accurately. By using their smartphones, tablets and computers - the volunteers can now record payments with ease. 

The information generated in "Pagos Familia" integrates with the Pilote system and allows easy identification of the families entitled to the benefit - allowing Techo to provide housing faster. The application interacts with the in-house systems - maintaining a vital synchronisation of information across Latin America.

"Pagos Familias" is open source - allowing the community to use the free software to expand the platform to other parts of Latin America. 

The use of "Pagos Familias" by hundreds of Techo volunteers in Ecuador has already allowed precise and live monitoring of the status of accounts receivable, facilitating the collection of tens of thousands of dollars - and giving Techo with more money to help many more families with housing in Ecuador.

Techo team photo