Welcome to CCA’s international development blog page … the sights and sounds, the people and places as experienced by credit union and co-operative volunteers on the frontline of development.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Helping Others

This week all the coaches are working in the capital, Ulaanbaatar (UB). Monday we hit the ground running at our new assignments. Having met with the board chair and CEO of my credit union when I first arrived, we were able to plan the week in advance. They were ready first thing with an informative and insightful PowerPoint presentation, including priorities and challenges.

I am impressed by the leadership – whose balanced view includes the macro-environment and longer term. Their passion is contagious and their desire to grow and contribute more to the livelihoods of the members is deep and authentic.

The credit union was started in 2001 by three women who were long time friends, in the home of Altan – whose name means golden flower. And yes it has blossomed despite the financial crisis, thanks in no small measure to the founders` continued leadership and support, along with an active membership.

They graciously excused me during the first day for a two hour meeting with the commissioner of the Financial Regulatory Commission. Dale, Scott and I had the opportunity to discuss the proposed credit union legislation slated for the parliamentary standing committee next week. We provided input from a Canadian perspective around a variety of issues including savings deposit insurance; stabilization and liquidity management; mandatory training for directors; language around meeting quorum requirements; and, the need for credit bureau reporting access. The legislation appears to be enabling in nature, allowing for a more sustainable macro-environment for credit unions to operate. It is another step forward along the evolutionary path of a maturing credit union sector – one that the commissioner clearly appreciates and supports.

As I work this week, I continue to be impacted by the powerful, personal stories shared by members I meet:
In the ger city portion of UB, everyone carries water. Nobody knows this better than Tsogtoo – he has lived here all his life. For many years he worked at a hard and dangerous job – welding petroleum tankers. Even though he is still in demand he admits with a smile, he has found a new vocation with the help of his credit union. Thanks to loans for materials, he now makes and sells carts for carrying water. “I have no burden in my soul,” Tsogtoo tells me sincerely. “[The] service is so good I don’t feel burdened by the loan.” That only seems fair Tsogtoo, you are helping others carry their burdens now.

And what has this relationship contributed to the family’s standard of living. His wife and three children now have a small house in the district, co-located with his business. His young son can now attend the “Lemuujin Wrestling School” – a dream come true for young Mongolian men. It is after all the country’s great sport. And it runs in the family, on his mother’s side.

Without a commitment to community by the credit union and Tsogtoo, the ambition of the next generation might not be realized. Now that’s what I call carrying the water!

The Itinerant Coach

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