Context: Mongolia is a landlocked country situated in the heart of Asia. Its population numbers a little over three million, over 30 per cent of which are nomadic. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. As well as this, Mongolia has a fast-growing population, with more than 60 per cent of the population being under the age of 35. Mongolia’s average population growth rate stood at 1.7 per cent in 2015 while the average life expectancy at birth was 65 years.
Mongolia’s GDP per capita is USD 3,943 and its unemployment rate is 9.4 per cent. Nearly 120,000 people are unemployed. Mongolia suffers from high youth unemployment due to a lack of vocational education and an absence of training in entrepreneurship.
Implementation of programme/ initiative: Development Solutions is a Mongolian non-governmental organization. Their target groups are youth, start-ups, SMEs and women business owners who reside in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and in four countryside regions of Mongolia.
They work to alleviate poverty by increasing the capacity of businesses to create jobs and by providing opportunities to create self-employment. They fund their projects and services through grants provided by international donor agencies, as well as through some service fees.
Main challenges: As Mongolia is a large country with a small population, it is challenging to reach those in the remote countryside areas. However, Development Solutions now has offices in each of the four countryside regions it targets. Sustainable financing is another challenge which it overcomes by charging a small fee for some of the services it offers.
Also, due to Mongolia’s short experience in cultivating private enterprise, Development Solutions has lacked training and consulting capabilities. However, it has tackled this issue by receiving training from consultants both online and in person from international business development organizations.
Results achieved: As part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, technical training has been provided to 692 youths, 96 of whom created their own start-ups. From August 2013, Development Solutions has helped to improve and expand 276 businesses.
Through the organization’s other programmes, they have also helped to create 3,930 businesses, improved 6,731 businesses and generated 18,668 jobs.
Moving Forward: The NGO is looking to create a pool of funds that will be used to finance and help kick-start youth businesses as well as to provide them with more comprehensive business development services. As a result, they will be able to assist in all areas of business creation. Development Solutions is also planning to develop organizational capacity by further educating and providing skills and tools to employees through training.
Replicability: As the country only transitioned to a democracy from socialism in 1990, the private sector in Mongolia is still developing. This also a factor that has led to the success of Development Solutions’ programmes because there are a low number of businesses. The absence of entrepreneurial mindsets amongst youth is also a big issue they are working to change. In addition, one of the key reasons for their success is their approach, which is to empower and improve capacity of individuals. They do not place so much emphasis on the idea or the product, but rather emphasize training of the entrepreneurs and individuals within the organizations they service.
Date: October 11, 2017