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Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Mongolia’s Women’s Business Center

Program Year: 2024

Celebrating seventy years at The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2024. For seven decades, we have partnered with change-makers from government, civil society, the private sector, and academia to solve some of the greatest challenges facing Asia and the Pacific. To mark this milestone, we are sharing a series of highlights showing the scope and impact of our contributions, past and present. We are committed to building on these achievements in the decades ahead.

The Asia Foundation has spurred women’s entrepreneurship in Mongolia by helping to create a crucial support structure for women seeking to own businesses and participate fully in economic opportunities. We launched the Mongolia Women’s Business Center (WBC) in 2016 to help women start and grow small businesses. WBC has nurtured an environment where women’s entrepreneurship can thrive and paved the way for greater women’s leadership in Mongolia’s economy.

When Tuya Baigal-Erdene came home to Mongolia after five years of working in South Korea, she faced a familiar challenge—finding a job. Drawing on her experience in Korea’s food processing industry, Tuya took a leap of faith and launched her own business, Nogoodoi, to produce packaged vegetable juices from local organic ingredients. Tuya knew food production technology but lacked business skills related to distribution and marketing. She could sell her juices in a few local stores and markets but didn’t know how to break into the broader marketplace. She wasn’t making much money and had trouble maintaining her inventory of materials and ingredients or even paying the rent.

In a turn of fortune, Tuya learned about the WBC.

While the entrepreneur’s journey is, by nature, filled with risks and hard lessons, women entrepreneurs in Mongolia, as in many countries, face special challenges. Because tradition assigns them to caregiving roles and responsibilities, their families often discourage or outright oppose their business aspirations. This cultural bias extends beyond the home, with women offered smaller business loans than men and required to pay higher interest. Caring for home and family is time intensive—time that can’t be spent building a successful enterprise. As a result, women-owned businesses in Mongolia are far more likely to be informal micro-enterprises with limited growth prospects.

The WBC was created to tackle these issues.

Working with industry experts, Tuya began to acquire the skills she needed from WBC’s training programs. Among these programs was the Business Incubator, which offered intensive training in sales and marketing and individualized support for developing business plans and securing financing. The WBC helped her purchase her first equipment, redesign her product packaging, and develop a plan to compost her organic waste.

Women’s Business Center clients receive intensive training and individualized support. (Photo: The Asia Foundation)

Just as important, when Tuya joined the WBC incubator program, she entered a community of smart, ambitious businesswomen like herself who shared and validated her entrepreneurial vision.

Equipped with greater knowledge, specialty skills, and support networks, Tuya started to expand her business—showcasing her products at trade fairs, selling through chain stores, and developing new offerings.

Nogoodoi has flourished, with signature products and consistent annual sales growth of 20 to 30 percent. Tuya has opened three more production centers, entered a collaboration with two local cooperatives, and formed a partnership with an independent delivery company to distribute her products to major retailers.

Tuya showcases her products at a local trade fair. (Photo: The Asia Foundation)

She speaks of the WBC’s life-changing effect on her vision and self-confidence:

I started with the simple dream of having a job and a steady income, but now I have a bigger vision. I remember these words from one of the WBC trainings, and they continue to inspire me: “For those who wish to do something, there will always be a way.”

Tuya started her business because she needed a job, but she now hopes to have a broader impact on the food industry in Mongolia. The fruits of her ambition exemplify the returns that come from supporting women entrepreneurs and building their capacity for success. By providing resources like the Women’s Business Center, The Asia Foundation has toppled barriers and created new opportunities to unlock the creativity and economic potential of women in Mongolia.

The Asia Foundation acknowledges the generous financial support of the Korea International Cooperation Agency and Global Affairs Canada for its work with the Women’s Business Center.

Follow the journey of another woman entrepreneur at the Women’s Business Center:

Related locations: Mongolia
Related programs: Inclusive Economic Growth, Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
Related topics: AsiaFoundation70

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This year, we celebrate 70 years of improving lives and expanding opportunities.