Unfortunately, Mongolia is not exempt from the same factors that have caused banks world-wide to hold a little tighter to their money. As a result, our low-income families without collateral who are already struggling to make a living with various small businesses are not receiving the micro loans they need right now to keep their businesses properly afloat. Some, in fact, have begun missing payments.
Groups are typically formed by members with several different businesses and as a group, they take out small loans of about $150 to start. They divide the money among themselves how they choose, and they are each required to save a certain minimum each month. If the loans is repaid on time - usually in about three months - they can apply for a slightly larger amount. They can do this up to 9 times to provide capital for their small stores, sewing businesses, craft manufacturing, etc.
The problem is that because these are risky loans for a bank to finance these types of loans and they don't see much return. With money tight, these loans have been frozen - at least temporarily.
On our trip to the countryside, we met with some folks who are are ready to start their new businesses, but have no money to start. We stood outside one store and talked.
You can see the concentration painted on my face.
One of the joys of going to the countryside is not only meeting the people, but also seeing where they live. Many people outside of the provincial capitals are herders, and they enjoy the wide-open Mongolian steppe with views like the ones below. Thanks to ADRA's IT specialist Amar for these two beautiful shots. I of course forgot my camera at the office.
It wasn't all business this weekend, though. At the request of our groups' committee, we hosted a volleyball tournament. There were about ten teams, including one from a bank, one from the business school where I have a business club and Leslie has a choir, and ADRA staff.
ADRA staff won the competition after some hard fought games. Each team paid a nominal entrance fee and our reward was about $14 in cash, which we promptly spent on a nice lunch together.