Songs of success

Mongolia, January 6, 2012

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  • Songs of success
  • copy-of-dsc00249.jpg
    Tserennadmid inspecting some of the vegetables her business grows. Photo: Sarah Gray/Mercy Corps Photo: copy-of-dsc00249.jpg
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    Profits from the vegetables allowed Tserennadmid to build this tourist camp and expand her business. Photo: Sarah Gray/Mercy Corps Photo: copy-of-dsc00270.jpg

Tserennadmid is a woman with plenty to sing about. Her company, Zugraan Egshig, or Six Tunes, is a thriving tourism and produce business located in an especially scenic region of Mongolia's Arkhangai province.

Each year, the business hosts more than 400 tourists at their tent camp, and sells more than 4,000 kilos of locally produced vegetables, generating an annual profit in excess of 8.2 million Mongolian Tugriks, or $6,400.

In 2002, only a few dilapidated greenhouses sat on the current site. But Tserennadmid saw potential. A trained agronomist, she wanted to grow vegetables to distribute locally and take advantage of nearby natural hot springs that drew visitors to the region.

Despite her vision, Tserennadmid lacked access to financial resources. With assistance from Mercy Corps, she secured a bank loan of MNT 5 million ($3,900), using the proceeds to renovate one of the existing greenhouses and plant her first crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables.

The harvest was quickly snapped up by the surrounding tourism businesses, who had strong demand from visitors for fresh, local produce. Her first crop sold for a total of MNT 2.8 million ($2,200), generating a profit of MNT 1.2 million ($900).

Tserennadmid continued to expand. She reinvested her profits into her business and took out two additional loans, partly to build a tourist camp with 15 gers, the Mongolian nomadic dwelling similar to a yurt. This brought in an additional MNT 5.3 million ($4,100) in profit that year. Later she built another 10 gers and grew profits by another 50 percent.

She also used her business savvy to best competing growers. Using her knowledge as a professional agronomist, she began planting her crops at the beginning of March -- earlier than most growers are comfortable with. This clever idea means that her produce is ready to harvest in early July, before her competitors and at the very time her tourist-business clients have their highest demand.

Today she employs numerous family members and up to 10 employees during the busy summer tourist and harvesting season.

Tserennadmid has enjoyed financial success, and her community has employment opportunities and another outlet to purchase fresh produce. She's not the only person that has something to sing about.