furniture makerMongolia Success Story: Linking Traditional Business to Global Markets

USAID’s Growing Entrepreurship Rapidly (GER) Initiative, implemented by CHF International, provides business development services to micro and small businesses operating in Mongolia’s peri-urban “ger” districts. A “ger” is the traditional Mongolian tent dwelling, favored by Mongolia’s nomadic population for centuries, which now surround all of Mongolia’s urban centers as former nomadic herders move to the cities in search of better employment and income-generating opportunities.

One such “ger” district resident and business owner is N. Batkhuyag, who produces traditional furniture for use within Mongolia’s gers. Typically painted in bright color with intricate traditional designs, motifs and carvings, “ger” furniture is a mainstay of Mongolian culture. Batkhuyag learned this traditional carpentry trade from his grandfather, a well-known artisan. While Batkhuyag was an expert craftsman, his knowledge of business and his ability to access new markets was limited.

In October 2005 Batkhuyag visited a GER Initiative branch office and began working with a GER Initiative business advisor, who provided him with market information, business consulting, and business training. During the training, Batkhuyag learned of GER Initiative’s business-to-business linkage service, which helps micro and small business access new markets through partnerships with large domestic companies and international buyers.

With GER’s encouragement, he began implementing new ideas and designs for his traditional ger furniture, catering more to western tastes in color and quality standards. This allowed Batkhuyag to exand his product offerings and differentiate his business from others working in the same field. With his increased quality and innovative designs, GER Initiative assisted him to access new markets, resulting in new sales of approximately $10,000.

Orders have continued to increase and, with his new knowledge of business and financial management, he has been able to increase his profit and expand his business, employing 5 people in the process. His products, including wooden tables, chairs and beds are now regularly exported to foreign countries such as Holland, France, Korea and the USA through GER Initiative’s linkage service.

In addition to his 5 regular employees, Batkhuyag is able to hire an additional 8-10 temporary workers for especially large orders. His workspace has expanded to cover 2 sections, 1 for carpentry and 1 for painting, he has increased his equipment from 1 sawframe to 8, and now buys raw material by the truckload as opposed to a few cubic meters at a time.

His business expansion and increased market access has led directly to the formalization of his business in November 2008 into a formal company, “Gerelt- Edlel,” of which he is the director.