Co-operation Amongst Co-operatives
In October, 2010, Martin McInnis of Affinity Credit Union in Saskatchewan was part of an eight person team that travelled to Mongolia to support credit unions in that country as coaches and mentors. The Canadian Co-operative Association has been sending coaching teams to Africa since 2002, but this was the first initiative of its kind to Asia. In this piece, Mr. McInnis tells the story of one Mongolian family that has used their credit union involvement to build a better life.
Imagine that your country recently transitioned from a centrally-planned, communist state to a free market democracy. You have two small boys at home. You are trying to expand your family business. And, your husband has passed way. Not a particularly ideal set of circumstances but this is exactly what N. Shinegerel, CEO of Mandukhai Khatan Company, faced not that many years ago. Fortunately, she is a very motivated and dynamic person; and, she is a member of Moncord Credit Union in Ulaanbaatar.
Shinegerel has been a member since Moncord opened for business. The credit union was there to lend her money when she needed to meet day-to-day living expenses and to purchase new equipment to continue to grow her business. Over time, she has built her business to include 12 staff and about 100 re-sellers of her products all across Mongolia. In addition to manufacturing cosmetics from natural Mongolian products like mare's milk and sea-buckthorn, her business also includes a spa, hair salon, and custom clothes design and tailoring. The success of her business has afforded her the opportunity to send both of her boys to the United States to continue their education. Her son Mend-Orshikh Amartaivan ("Mendy" for short) has since returned and started his own business where he employs about 20 young software developers and sells digital media services to Mongolian businesses.
Mendy and his brother were "Little Bees" at Moncord Credit Union ("Little Bee" is the credit union's name for children's accounts). Mendy says his experience as a Little Bee taught him the value of saving. His mother has set up credit union accounts for all of her staff and for many of her staff's children and she has arranged with her employees to have payroll deductions taken from their paycheques and deposited to their credit union accounts. She is teaching her staff the lessons that she learned through her credit union membership to help them improve their lives and the lives of their children. She is a very successful mother, business person, and community member with a huge heart and an undying love for her country, its people, and her credit union.
Shinegerel and Mendy both speak glowingly of their credit union and how the credit union's support has allowed them and their businesses to prosper and create significant new jobs in their community. These two brave entrepreneurs, with the assistance of their credit union, have created over thirty jobs and they are sharing their knowledge and expertise with their employees and with other business people through involvement in the Mongolia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, through speaking engagements, blogs, and other channels. Mendy is also the president of a venture capital firm - this "Little Bee" is now doing his part to pollinate the ideas of other young Mongolian entrepreneurs to help them achieve successes of their own.