Thursday, October 21, 2010

Up date from Mongolia

Day four in Mongolia, day ten on the road and a LONG way from home and I’m starting to feel it. Whether it was getting run down due to the travel, picking up a bug on the plane or the smoke in the air here in UB from the coal fired power plant, I’ve picked up a doozy of a head/chest cold. The problem is finding a pharmacy is a little easier said than done and when you do everything is imported from Russia, China or India. I’m a little reluctant to load up on pharmaceuticals I know nothing about but not to worry. There’s a peace core volunteer working for one of the NGO’s we’re partnered with and she says she has more than enough cold medicine brought over from home that will fix me right up.

Yesterday was another very full day. And just as some background information; this trip is part of a Mongolian credit union coaching and mentoring program. Most of the team members either hit the ground running to catch overnight trains to remote rural villages or are working with small financial cooperatives here in UB to offer advice and support. My partner Scott and I however were picked by our Mongolian hosts to work with two apex organizations. The Mongolian National Comparators Association, a trade and development organization representing all the cooperatives in Mongolia and MOCCU, the Mongolian Confederations of Credit Unions, which will hopefully play the role of a central credit union similar to BC Central. We’re also working indirectly with a third training and development NGO.

Neither of us has a background at the regulatory level so we’re not sure what the Mongolian partner saw in our resume’s that prompted them to pick us for this assignment, especially when others in our group look far more qualified. The only thing that stands out is we’re both now consultants vs. actual CU employee’s so that may have had something to do with it but I’m not sure why.

When I first heard I wouldn’t be traveling to a rural area with the rest of the group I was a little bummed but now I couldn’t be happier. Scott and I are working with some incredible people: senior management from various NGO’s and so far we’ve interviewed the president of the Union of Mongolian Production and Service Cooperatives and the Director of the Microfinance Department of the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia.

I won’t lie: interviewing the Director was pretty cool. It was supposed to be just our coordinator and our embedded journalist. Scott and I were able to tag along because of the work we’re doing with MOCCU but it quickly morphed into seeming like our interview. The Director is a very professional woman with a very hard job. She has to implement new banking regulations that are currently before parliament and from that virtually reconstruct the Mongolian credit union system. No small feat when you consider the previous Commissioner was murdered when he tried to close corrupt credit unions prior to the collapse.

And now a few observations and thoughts in no particular order:
- Yes, in many area’s the roads are poor, the sidewalks are broken and the buildings are crumbling, but through this most Mongolian women stride along dressed to the absolute nines. As one of our group said, she wants to come back and open a boot shop because knee-high patent leather boots and VERY sharp business suits are the uniform dejur’ for Mongolian professional women.
- Most men wear business suits and those not in business attire are dressed just as sharply as their female counterparts.
- I seen VERY little litter and virtually no tagging and graffiti.
- And finally, here’s something that I think speaks volumes about their culture. The traffic is absolutely terrible and in many areas cars are double and triple parked three deep. We joked that if you were the car on the inside you’d be stuck until the others left but our guide said it’s not a problem because if you block someone in you leave your cell number on your windshield and it’s understood you’ll come back and move your car if it’s necessary.

Take care!

No comments:

Post a Comment