Friday, August 19, 2011

Kharkhorin: co-operatives in action: part one

We left the ger camp at around 9 on Wednesday and headed for Kharkhorin, where we visited Beh Credit Union, where Gary Seveny and Trudy Rasmuson have been working as coaches. The credit union was established in 2002 with 10 members; as the manager, Dash, put it, "The economic situation here was very poor and we had no access to loans.  So we decided to improve our financial situation by ourselves and opened the credit union."

Dash, the manager of the Beh Credit Union, in the CU office

In front of the credit union: l to r: Ganbold (the CU's accountant), Trudy, Dash, Gary.  The word that can be seen on the blue sign is khorshoo, the Mongolian word for "co-operative".
Today, Beh has over 200 members and more than 100 members have already received loans from the CU.  They have used the money for everything from creating small businesses to home improvements to paying for their children's tuition. The credit union also organizes social activities for its members, and I was particularly pleased to hear that it encourages its members to buy products from other members, thus increasing member engagement in the CU.

More recently, the credit union has started a transportation service as a ancilliary business; and it won an award from local authorities for its contribution to agriculture in the area.  The prize was a tractor, and members can borrow it for their own agricultural activities.

When we asked Dash about the kind of people who join the credit union, he brings out a piece of paper listing all the members by age, gender and occupation, The membership is 51.3 per cent female and 48.7 per cent male, and 42 per cent are between the ages of 30 and 45.  Dash runs down the list of occupations: "One member of parliament, 35 from the soum (local) government, 20 own small businesses, 48 work for private businesses, 16 herders, 10 work in agriculture.....and so on, until he gets to "one student".   We talked about the impact of Gary and Trudy's coaching assignment, and Dash seemed pleased with their recommendations. "I am really glad that people in Canada came here and shared their experiences. It's really helpful for us."

-- Donna Balkan

No comments:

Post a Comment