Many of the Herders Matching Funds, which were created with the support of the Green Gold Animal Health Project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation since 2006, are evolving into Savings and Credit Cooperatives of herders. The initial objective was to encourage herders to join Pasture User Groups for improved and collective management of rangelands and learn to fundraise within themselves to finance investment projects that benefit all members. In order to ensure the sustainability of Herders Matching Funds, the Green Gold Animal Health Project has developed a business model of Herders Savings and Credit Cooperatives converted from the matured Herders Matching Funds. Besides financial capital, the social capital, trust and teamwork that herders have built by operating their Matching Funds, have been essential to transform them into professional Savings Credit and Savings Cooperatives.
The “Munkhiin Buyan Uguuj” Savings and Credit Cooperative of the Herders of Durgun Soum of Hovd Aimag is one the seven Herders Matching Funds that obtained a special license from the State Financial Committee to operate as a Savings and Credit Cooperative in 2017. As of December 2018, it has three full time staff members and the total capital reached 210.0 million MNT. 180 herder families are members. P. Tsogbadrah says, “We aim to provide easy access to services to the members. The savings of our members are increasing and the trust we have built among us over these years is our biggest asset. Most of our members are small herders with less than 200 livestock. They can hardly qualify for loans from banks as they lack collaterals and it is hard to process all the paper work. Our SCC provides members with small loans and savings services easy to manage with less paper work and bureaucracy”.
The Green Gold Animal Health Project designed the training programme and road map for the herders and PUG leaders in cooperation with the Mongolian Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives on how to transform their Matching Funds into savings and credit cooperatives. According to the Mongolian Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives, there have been very few Herders Savings and Credit Cooperatives in the rural areas, and the experience of the Herders Matching Funds of the Green Gold Animal Health Project provided new insights into the demands and needs of nomadic herder families. Lessons learned and experiences from the Green Gold Animal Health Project contributed on several occasions to review regulations concerning the establishment and capacity development of rural SCCs.
In August 2018, the Green Gold Animal Health Project organised, in cooperation with the Mongolian Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives, a study tour to Thailand for three newly established Herders SCCs. One of the members was P.Tsogbadrah, Chairman of the Steering Committee of “Munkhiin Buyan Uguuj” Savings and Credit Cooperative of Herders of Durgun Soum of Hovd Aimag. They visited SCCs in Thailand initiated by local communities many years ago which have evolved to play a role in many important societal and economic benefits for the community. When asked what where the main lessons from the SCCs of Thailand, P. Tsogbadrah responded, “We need to be constantly creative to provide ever improving services to members. The members’ trust and commitment are the key to maintain a successful and sustainable operation”.