Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Introduction to Mongolian credit unions

 Gary Seveny is the former CEO of Alterna Savings Credit Union. This is his first visit to Mongolia.

My days here start early 6 am and end late near midnight.

Breakfast was at our hotel and it was great. Although some of the food items were surprising from a western breakfast perspective. There were two types of salads to choose from and I did try both to experience the dietary range here. Also available were the usual breakfast fare of eggs, toast, coffee, selection of cheese and juices. The Mongolian diet has a heavy emphasis on meat and even breakfast offered a variety of sliced beef, sliced hams and sliced sausage.

I started my day meeting delegates from Mongolian Confederation of Credit Unions (MOCCU) and the cooperative organization responsible for training and consulting known as MCTIC. We were briefed by individual representatives that presented historical and current perspectives on the credit union system here in Mongolia. We also discussed the prospects of the future and the new Credit Union Act which has just received the first reading in their Parliament.

As a group of 10 coaches organized into 5 teams of two coaches we concentrated the rest of the morning reviewing our work assignments for the next two weeks; meeting our translator/interpretors; discussing how we will travel to our assigned credit unions in the various regions of Mongolia.

I am teamed up with Trudy Rasmuson, CEO,  Horizon Credit Union, who was a coach here in 2010 which is very helpful to me since this is my first year in Mongolia. Trudy and I thoroughly reviewed the plan for the next two weeks and are confident that we will provide value to the credit unions we will be working with.

MOCCU and MCTIC hosted our lunch at the Puma Imperial Hotel. I had a wonderful soup that had beef tongue as its meat and a creamy broth that was described as traditional. This was followed by a nicely roasted breast of duck.

In the afternoon we visited Trusco Credit Union which was one of Trudy's assigned CUs from last year. We were verifying the progress made from the prior year. We met with Bayaka the CEO and his two employees. It was rewarding to see that the credit union has prosperred well since last year.  In the last six months, the credit union has grown its assets a solid 20%!

We were also able to assist Bayaka with preparing his report to MOCCU which outlines the areas he was able to leverage the recommendations from the prior year visit by the coaches.

Bayaka invited us to dinner and we met up with two of our colleagues plus the staff of Arvin DEM Credit Union at the Godfather Restaurant. Yes, Italian food with a Mongolian influence. They were our gracious hosts for this dinner. They said they knew we would be enjoying more traditional Mongolian fare when we leave the Capital tomorrow morning. The food was excellent and the hosts were gracious.

It should be noted that it is common to have the Menus feature everything in Mongolian with an English translation.  Translations though, are often precisely accurate versus adopting the western terms. For example: Fried chicken chest vs breast; duck chest vs breast of duck; chicken fried leg vs fried chicken leg.  We find great humour with these translations even though they are technically correct.

It will be a long drive tomorrow, 430 kms, over mountainous terrain of paved and dirt roads. It has been suggested that we relax and enjoy what will likely be a 7 or 8 hour drive or longer. We will be arriving to Bat-Ulzii in Uvurkhangai province.

-- Gary Seveny

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