Mongolia sits atop a vast amount of untapped natural resources. With China and Russia as its two powerful neighbours, Mongolia is positioned to become an exporting powerhouse. The sparsely populated nation is already growing fast, with its GDP expected to double by 2015.
The percentage of people living below the poverty line in Mongolia is 36.1%. In surrounding countries, this figure ranges from 8 – 16%. Poverty rates are dropping in urban centres, but in rural areas the country is seeing a three per cent increase, reaching 46.6 per cent.
While there are tens of thousands of active creditors in Mongolia, they operate mostly in urban areas and target the wealthy. There is great demand for credit from thousands of urban and rural poor who are denied access to finance. This is where we step in.
We are a microfinance institution with bold efforts and large regional impact. We search for innovative ways to reach more poor people with our financial services. Some of our initiatives and programmes include:
- The development of an ‘innovation team’, who will focus on defining, testing and implementing changes to improve financial and social bottom lines. Their work translates to greater efficiencies and smaller average loan sizes.
- The opening of additional rural branches, primarily located in development areas where World Vision works.
TWO GENERATIONS OF DRESSMAKERS
“When I see smile on people’s face after they receive the dress I made for
them, it inspires me to keep going on. It is the best feeling” beams dressmaker
Gerelt-Od.L, a 31 year old, mother of four. She lives with her husband
Buyankhuu 37, three daughters Burenjargal 14, Burneebayar 12, Naransolongo1 and
son Bilegsaikhan 9. Gerelt-Od has been running dressmaking shop at Urt Tsagaan Street
in the central Ulaanbaatar for 5 years now, since she bought her first sewing
machine with VisionFund loan. She makes Mongolian traditional dress-deel,
dancing costumes, and other traditional accessories. “When you do the job you
like, things are easy” says Gerelt-Od. Yet things were not as simple back in
the days when her family first moved to Ulaanbaatar from countryside several
Gerelt-Od’s family first came to Ulaanbaatar from countryside, hoping for
better opportunities. They sold their livestock, their only source of income,
as well as their ger (Mongolian traditional housing) when they left countryside
and came to the capital city. The family then bought new ger in Ulaanbaatar and
built it in a relative’s yard. Lacking the education and skills to find a job
in the capital city, Gerelt-Od and her husband tried to do any job they could
find. They even tried to run a relative’s grocery store for while, yet
Gerelt-Od wanted to have her own business.
Things changed when her
mother Erdenechimeg, 54, encouraged her develop her dressmaking skills and
start a business together. Erdenechimeg had started making dresses after
attending World Vision Dressmaking Course, and bought her sewing machine with
VisionFund loan. Following her mother’s footsteps, Gerelt-Od decided to apply
for a loan. “I was worried about getting loan, if it requires many documents or
collateral, but it was so easy. Loan after loan, my life improved” talks Gerelt-Od
happily. With her first loan of 250USD she bought sewing machine, and opened a
dressmaking shop with her mom. With her second and third loans, she bought new
refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and washing machine for her home. Gerelt-Od’s
family is now planning to move from their parents’ yard, and build their own
house on the land they acquired few months ago.
“My children are very talented, so I try to
encourage them to pursue their hobbies. Now that my business is well, our
family is able to afford to send our children to the club they like. Burneebayar
goes to gymnastics and Chinese club, and Bilegsaikhan goes to mathematics and Chinese
club. He even draws well” says Gerelt-Od proudly of her children. Burneebayar
wants to become a model in future, while the eldest Burenjargal wants to study economics.
Gerelt-Od is planning to
attend the Tsagaan sar fair in January, the annual fair showcasing national
manufacturers’ products during Tsagaan Sar: the biggest national holiday. “Our
shop is doing so well. We are busy all the time with orders, so I am planning
to hire few people and form a company. People already came to me asking for a
job” says Gerelt-Od excitedly. Her wish is to send their children to university
and see them grow to be good people who contribute to Mongolia.
Manny Palis joined Vision Fund Mongolia September 1, 2012 after extensive experience with the United Nations and leading microfinance institutions, which includes Opportunity International, Women's World Banking, World Relief and HOPE International. He previously served with microfinance institutions in the Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. “I want to lead Vision Fund Mongolia with a transformational leadership style, where staff lives can be changed from the inside out,” he says. Manny’s education includes an M.A. in agrarian studies, extensive development finance coursework at Harvard University, and an advanced leadership course at the Haggai Institute in Hawaii.