Travel Report: First visit to GSB Capital in Mongolia
Written by Jorge Vilar on 1 December 2023
Sometimes, the universe listens - and this year, it heard me loud and clear. My first wish for 2023 was to join Lendahand’s Investments Team on a due diligence trip to meet entrepreneurs benefiting from our crowdfunding platform. This dream became a reality with a journey to Mongolia earlier this year. But the adventure didn’t end there.
After the trip, I found myself hoping we could finalize the contractual phase of the due diligence soon to introduce projects for GSB Capital on our platform. GSB Capital is a microfinance institution in Mongolia that started its activities in 2010 and aims to make an important impact on the lives of local entrepreneurs and their families. It is thus an investment opportunity that aligns perfectly with Lendahand’s mission of reducing the financing gap for SME entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
So, here I am with part two of my travel report from our due diligence trip to Mongolia, sharing everything I got to learn about microfinance institution GSB Capital. A story worth telling.
Our visit to their headquarters in Ulaanbaatar gave us the answer. We had the opportunity to meet several entrepreneurs who thrive thanks to GSB’s support in financing their Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Bayan’s Clothing and Fabrics
Our first stop was Bayan’s clothing store in the bustling Bayalag Undraa market pavilion. The store immediately caught our attention with its colorful fabrics on display. As far as the eye can see, you’re surrounded by bright-colored sheets, towels, and comfy mattresses.
Having a conversation with Bayan proved to be an adventure in itself. The language barrier was one thing, but the constant flow of clients meant our discussion was frequently, yet understandably, interrupted. The dedication to her customers is for sure one of her unique selling points.
A typical day for Bayan starts with checking incoming orders, preparing delivery slips, and overseeing her four small shops and a warehouse. She can thank this significant growth from her initial small store to hard work and the support of GSB, on whom she relies for quick and reliable financing.
Now that we’re properly dressed for the occasion, it’s time to see how to get a full-on house renovation done in Mongolia’s capital city at Hatadiin’s workshop.
Looking for a new custom-made cabinet for your kitchen? You’re at the right address! Hatadiin is a furniture manufacturer and timber expert in Ulaanbataar. Alongside his team of eight skilled artisans, Hatadiin transforms wood from China, Russia, and Korea into bespoke, high-quality furniture pieces.
Hatadiin credits his success to the initial support from GSB Capital. Back in 2011, a loan from GSB enabled him to purchase essential machinery, a truck, and materials to establish his workshop and business.
Reflecting on his journey as an entrepreneur, Hatadiin shared, 'I first learned about GSB through friends who praised their credit solutions for business investments. My first experience with GSB's loan was so positive that I've continued to partner with them. Their process is fast, simple, and exactly what an entrepreneur needs to thrive.'
Hearing from him and seeing how he is able to run his business underlines the critical role of timely financial support for me. It really means turning entrepreneurial dreams into reality.
Mr. Tolga’s Construction Essentials
Our final stop of the day took us to Mr. Tolga's business, which specializes in ready-mix for construction, cement, and a unique marble paint for building covers. What sets them apart is their one-of-a-kind machine in Mongolia that can create any color for these covers, offering customers custom-made materials, a significant advantage in the construction industry.
The initial loan Mr. Tolga received from GSB was crucial in purchasing land, setting up their small factory, and acquiring raw materials. Given the dust generated when operating the machine, Mr. Tolga made sure to purchase a piece of land outside the city, considering their environmental impact.
Much like other entrepreneurs we met, Mr. Tolga also sources materials like wood and cement from China, Russia, and Korea, adapting to the limited local resources. GSB's flexible financing conditions, such as accepting a car as collateral for the first loan, were pivotal for Mr. Tolga, especially during challenging times like the COVID lockdown. Now, he and his team of six full-time workers are back on track!
From Mongolia over to you
As this journey across Mongolia comes to a close, the profound impact of our mission resonates more than ever. Meeting Bayan, Hatadiin, and Mr. Tolga – entrepreneurs whose lives have been transformed by GSB Capital's support – was not just inspiring, it was a vivid reminder of the tangible difference our work makes. These encounters not only mark the end of a trip for me but also reaffirm our commitment to fighting poverty through financial inclusion.
This is where I hand over making an impact in emerging markets to you! GSB Capital is now available for your support on Lendahand. Head to our projects page today and contribute to empowering Mongolian entrepreneurs with your impact investment.