Mercy Corps-Managed Microfinance Program Yields Unprecedented Return for Mongolia


December 10, 2015

$10 million return to be invested in Mongolia Resilient Communities Program

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – A program that started with a small investment to support pastoral herders has grown into one of the country’s major financial institutions in less than 15 years. As a result of this unprecedented financial success -- and in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) -- $10 million will be redeployed for the benefit of Mongolians in a resilience program designed and administered by Mercy Corps. The funds will come from shares sold this week to the National Bank of Canada.

TenGer Financial Group evolved from an international development project implemented as the country transitioned from a centralized state to a free-market economy. Funded initially with roughly $1 million from USDA and USAID and managed by Mercy Corps, the program has helped tens of thousands of pastoralists and small businesses to access fundamental financial tools such as savings accounts, lines of credit and insurance policies. “This program has helped close the gap between banking and herding in Mongolia and build thousands of rural businesses,” says Jennifer Bielman, Mercy Corps’ country director in Mongolia.

It has also – through savvy investing and careful stewardship from Mercy Corps and other partners – grown to be among the largest banks in the country, with total assets over $1 billion USD. The sale of Mercy Corps’ share brings the organization’s investment full-circle.

“The development community has a long history of supporting and building financial services and institutions,” says Steve Mitchell, Vice President of Mercy Corps’ Financial Services. “This is the only example we know of in which investment in a financial institution will return substantial proceeds that can be used to leverage even greater impact.”

Mercy Corps will oversee this new investment in programs that will be able to reach and benefit an even greater number of Mongolian rural entrepreneurs to continue to evolve their long-held practice of pastoral production to meet the modern demands of the global economy. Among the programs to be funded are education for entrepreneurs around how to shield businesses from climate-related setbacks and how to advocate within local government for economic policy that promotes small businesses.

The livestock sector is the backbone of the culture and industry in Mongolia; it provides 30 percent of all jobs in the country.