By Kevin Henderson, KF11, Mongolia
Last week, Credit Mongol, one of Kiva’s two field partners in Mongolia, honored its top 50 clients at an annual appreciation event. The busy agenda included a presentation by Credit Mongol’s management team, a business education lecture and an awards ceremony. I was fortunate to attend this year’s event and gain a more informed perspective on Credit Mongol’s clients and its business.
Credit Mongol staff and their top 50 clients of the year
The criteria for a client to make the top 50 included creating a stable, growing business and, most importantly, making timely and complete loan repayments. Most of the honorees were longtime clients, although they were not necessarily representative of the largest loans in Credit Mongol’s portfolio. Since Credit Mongol is not exclusively a micro lender, the guests also included representatives of small and medium sized enterprises. 25 clients of the top 50 were microfinance clients.
Clients that sold products were encouraged to set up displays. Below are the products of a boot maker and a maker of traditional Mongolian wares.
The afternoon began with a presentation by Naranbaatar, Credit Mongol’s Chief Operational Officer. The audience listened carefully to his description of the organization’s performance and strategic direction (in this picture Naranbaatar was talking about Kiva!).
Naranbaatar’s presentation was followed by a dynamic lecture from a noted Mongolian business educator. This energetic woman told the clients how valuable they were to Credit Mongol and spoke among other things about the importance of creating a mission statement for a business. Despite creating successful businesses, most of the clients have never had a formal business education. This session ended on a very relaxed note. Everyone gave each other shoulder massages.
After a dinner that included suutei tsai (salty milk tea), a popular drink that I think I’ve developed a taste for, award plaques were presented to the best of the best. Triumphant sounding music played as the winners proudly came forward to accept their awards from Credit Mongol’s management team. Awards were presented to the favorite clients from each branch.
As a new field partner still in pilot stage, Credit Mongol hasn’t had many Kiva borrowers and this year there weren’t any among the top 50, but I’m told that next year that may change.
This occasion was well deserved by the clients and offered them a great networking opportunity to strengthen their businesses. The clients and staff alike enjoyed themselves and even danced together as the evening ended. Events like this are also an important marketing tool for Credit Mongol. Retaining good customers with growing businesses strengthens the loan portfolio, attracting financing and enabling further lending.
Kevin Henderson is a member of Kiva Fellows 11th class and is serving with Credit Mongol in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.