In Mongolia’s poverty-affected area of Darkhan, an enterprising group of pig farmers have recognized that being an individual entrepreneur is simply not enough to make ends “meat”.
The domestic meat industry, traditionally dominated by mutton, has recently seen a rise in new products such as beef, chicken, and pork.To capitalize on the increasing demand for non-mutton meat, a number of individual pig farmers in Darkhan, Mongolia, recently sought the assistance of CHF International.The Growing Entrepreneurship Rapidly (GER) Initiative, a business development program implemented by CHF International and funded by USAID and USDA, helped these pig farmers come together and collaborate as a business group.Through ongoing assistance from the CHF International/ USAID Cooperative Development Program, individual entrepreneurs have overcome their initial misgivings about working with others, and have realized that working together as a group, instead of working as separate micro-enterprises, has helped them maximize their earnings and overcome everyday business challenges.
“Uliastai” is one such pig farming group that has seen this success. Since their inception, Uliastai’s six members have strengthened their collaborative relationship by developing a business plan, purchasing materials in bulk, sharing transport and breeding services, and selling products together. The group’s leader, Urantsogt, describes their success:
"Before [forming the Uliastai group], we worked separately to run our individual farms; but now we are discussing ideas and solving problems together. Our group members have realized that we are not competitors, but collaborators."
Indeed, in a recent organizational assessment conducted by the CHF/USAID Cooperative Development Program, members report that participating in the Uliastai group has directly lowered members’ input costs, generated more income through sales, and expanded their business contacts.With a commitment to teamwork and to improving meat quality, production capacity, and processing technology, seasonal profits have totaled more than 3,000 USD, or twice the annual per capita income. Recently, the group expanded its product delivery through a poultry farm as well as a food retail store. In the future, the Uliastai group intends to change its seasonal operations model into a year-round business by supplying quality pork in large quantities to major corporations in Mongolia.
With this success, Uliastai has recognized that expanded collaboration could bring even greater results.In 2005, members asked CHF to help them establish a secondary-tier Pig Farmers Association, which has since mobilized additional groups and individual farmers to support the needs and the rights of local pig farmers. This association is one of the first examples where small entrepreneurs in Mongolia’s informal sector have mobilized at the grassroots level to support their private sector interests. With the technical assistance of the CHF/USAID Cooperative Development Program, the budding 35-member association meets regularly to identify new business opportunities, such as supply-side economies of scale and new sales distribution channels.At present, the association is surveying its members to determine the number of pigs collectively available to potentially sell to large-scale buyers.The group also intends to address other future issues in support of the rights of local pig farmers
This effort is part of a larger USAID/CHF program that is directly assisting over 50 cooperatives and creating and sustaining 4,000 jobs for low-income people, while improving the enabling environment for over 30,000 cooperatives and 4 million members in Bosnia, Mongolia, and the Philippines.