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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Good Word Travels

What do you do when your world suddenly changes? Or a friend needs help? Or you can pass on a good word or deed? In the 1990`s Mongolia abruptly changed from socialism to a market economy. It turns out she is a small, nimble country – able to adapt and move forward where other, larger economies would undoubtedly endure a long, drawn out struggle.

During this period, Gantuya`s garment factory – where she had worked for 12 years, was privatized. Her reaction? Buy one of the old sewing machines and strike out on her own. After all, she had the skill and like many Mongolians, an entrepreneurial flair. 
L-R:Gantuya, entrepreneur; Altan, credit union director; and Ken, CCA coach.

Now growing a coat business is not easy as there are many hats to wear, including financial manager. But growth means a need for capital. So when she found the banks too complicated and time consuming, Gantuya was stuck. 
Meeting her, I was impressed by her caring nature. So it should be no surprise that she has good friends. Water attracts water. It was one such friend that brought her to a credit union office on the fourth floor of a building that houses small retail entrepreneurs and their little shops/stalls. Interesting coincidence? I think not – remember the water. A good word and a good deed and Gantuya had her loan. That was two years and four loans ago.
The good word that travelled across Ulaanbaatar bringing Gantuya to her credit union now carries news of her outstanding reputation for quality to the westernmost parts of Mongolia. Her coat business is thriving and she is tireless. In fact she was sewing almost right up to the moment of our meeting at her credit union, to present and discuss the coaching findings and recommendations.
Today she has a stall in the local marketplace; her husband is selling the coats in the west; and, she is expanding into trousers and jackets. How does she sum up her business motivation and strategy? “To make a more affordable product and keep people warm” she explains simply. Their living standard has improved, school fees for their son are paid and they have a small savings plan at the credit union.     
It reminds me of a statue I was taken to see in Erdenet. It was of Otgonbileg, a local hero. The inscription roughly translates to, “Once the sun is rising it means a new day is coming for your life. In this day you must do good things.”
What good word or deed will you do today? A good word travels, so let’s pay it forward.


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