Our first day with the credit union in Ulgii was a great introduction to the size, scope and aspirations of this fairly young credit union. Seemingly well managed with a healthy governance structure and balance sheet, the questions focused on methods for member growth and competing with other local banks. Given the regulatory restrictions on direct advertising for credit unions in Mongolia, we raised some ideas about news stories of credit union events, member referral reward programs and community project support as other ways to spread the good message and increase new member acquisition. These ideas were definitely new and there was a healthy dose of scepticism from the Baiteric staff, but with continued persistence in describing how these can be effective and relating the Canadian experience they softened with time.
|Scott receives a mug for becoming a new member|
In a move to directly impact new member acquisition, Dale and I signed up for accounts in the credit union and place our funds into both member share accounts and deposit accounts. The excitement was tangible as our host Mr. Sauhan (Baiteric’s accountant) leapt to prepare paper work and diligently request passport and other identification. A proud moment it was as he handed over our new member mug (a Baiteric imaged coffee mug – a gift for each new member) and the pass book for our new accounts. The event demanded a christening of the mugs and a celebration of the account opening so a round of vodka ensued to mark the occasion. This, combined with our horsemeat snack (seemed always available) set us up for a great rest of the morning!
We lunched at the nearby Turkish restaurant (were we really that far west?) which seemed the only place in Mongolia which does a nice grilled chicken. Leaving the tough questions for the next day when the President would join us, we toured the town further, checked out the local museum and joined our Baiteric compatriots for dinner at the other nice restaurant in town. They begged off early to attend yet another gathering related to the same wedding as Saturday night with promises to meet again in the morning.
-- Scott Hughes
-- Scott Hughes