By Amber Barger, KF13, Mongolia
Mongolia is known for its vast amount of open space and beautiful scenery. The population density of Mongolia is just over 1 person per square kilometer. In this post, I’ll share photos from the most rural of businesses to the most urban.
The term “countryside” can be translated into “khuudoo” in Mongolian language. However, the meaning of the word is slightly different in English and Mongolian. The term khuudoo in Mongolian is relative to where you are from in the country and where you are when you say the word. If you are based in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, a person usually thinks of anyplace outside of the capital as the khuudoo. If a person lives in a provincial capital, when this person says the word khuudoo, they usually are referring to anything more rural than where they are at the time, like a village or open field.
If a person is based in a village or “soum” and says khuudoo, the person is talking about the vast countryside of open fields. A soum is the Mongolian word for a village of about 3,000-7,000 citizens.
The term khuudoo comes up in conversations about vacations, where a person was born, and general traveling.
PASTURE AREA BUSINESSES – Herders, roadside cafes, and tire repair shops
A herder is the most rural of businesses in Mongolia. The herder lives with his or her family in the open pasture with the family’s herd of animals.
Along the roadside, cafes and tire repair shops are housed within gers. Weary travelers can stop to eat a hot meal and repair their busted tires.
The hotel is located on the second floor with a food store and cafe on the first floor.
This hotel, and many in soums, don’t have running water. The guest may use the outhouse down the stairs and in the backyard. To bathe the guest can request a bucket of hot water.
This supermarket has two aisles of food and toiletry items for sale. About 25 % of the goods for sale are varieties of vodka and candy.
PROVINCIAL CENTER BUSINESSES:
ULAANBAATAR SMALL BUSINESSES:
As you can see from the photos, the small businesses at the provincial capital and country capital levels look a lot alike. There are many cafes, food stores, clothing shops, and small electronics stalls that are run on a micro scale. The small businesses in the countryside and the city are very similar by appearance and how they are managed, in my opinion. In the countryside, the small businesses make up most of the economy. Provincial centers have a small percentage of medium-sized businesses.
In Ulaanbaatar, there are thousands of small family-owned businesses, but also many medium and large businesses. Darkhan and Erdenet are sometimes categorized as cities, but sometimes the khuudoo, depending on the context.
ULAANBAATAR LARGE BUSINESSES:
Please lend to an entrepreneur in Mongolia through XacBank and Credit Mongol, LLC.
Amber Barger is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow in Mongolia. She has lived for the past two years in rural Mongolia as a community economic development Peace Corps Volunteer. Along with her Kiva Fellowship, she is extending a third year with the Peace Corps as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader.