|Our visit to Parliament: l to r: Myagaa, Donna, Lydia and Enkhbold|
But Enkhbold Nyamaa is not just any politician. He also happens to be the president of the National Mongolian Cooperators Association (NMCA), the apex organization which was created just a few years ago when the country's sectoral co-operative federations decided they wanted to get together to speak with one voice. The first thing we discovered is that the interpreter wasn't really necessary -- Enkhbold's English is fluent. The second thing we learned is that Mongolia's long-awaited credit union legislation, which was drafted with the help of a CCA technical co-operant and has been seven years in the making, will likely be adopted this fall. And the third thing we learned was that the co-operative sector has a strong and effective advocate in the Mongolian parliament.
Like many of the co-operators we have met in Mongolia, Enkhbold sees the country's rapidly-growing mining sector as an important opportunity for co-operatives. The mining industry needs services: and who better to provide those services than co-ops? "The mining sector is developing very fast; it is the engine for the rest of the economy," he told us. "But the mining companies don't do the small things that co-operatives can do."
Tomorrow morning, Sarah and I head off to the Mongolian countryside, while Lydia remains in Ulaanbaatar for meetings with a variety of stakeholders. More to come...internet access willing.
-- Donna Balkan