A Meeting of Women Entrepreneurs of Asia-Pacific Countries will be held within the forthcoming Conference of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) and the CACCI President’s visit to Mongolia. Ahead of this meeting, Mrs. L.Bolormaa, Head of the Mongolian Women Entrepreneurs Council (MWEC), gave an interview to our magazine.
- 13 years have passed since the MWEC had established. Please tell us about the MWEC’s activities.
- Set up in 2006, MWEC has been working together with MNCCI to become a voice of business women working together to create a better environment for doing business, resolving issues and challenges we face, and boosting international ties and cooperation. Our main functions are: policy advocacy; business development; external cooperation and social activities. Our main focus has been policy advocacy whereby we actively participate in discussions of new amendments to draft laws, deliver our proposals to working groups and exchange our positions with women members of parliament as well as the heads of parliamentary working groups on proposed policy/law amendments. The Council’s external ties have widened over the past four years and we have expanded our cooperation with CACCI WEC, the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs (CAWE), the Kazakhstan Council for Women Entrepreneurs and Japan’s “Emerald” Club. As a part of our social responsibility, our actions primarily focus on assisting people with disabilities. In 2018, we raised funds for the “Our Help” NGO to purchase Braille for children with visual impairments. To promote our women entrepreneurs we hold every two years a Lady Entrepreneur Awards event and award leading women entrepreneurs in each sector of the economy. Lastly, our main achievement over the past four years has been the Business Women Incubator Centre which we established together with the Asia Foundation in 2015.
- You mentioned the policy advocacy. What particular matters does the Council focus on in terms of policy advocacy?
- As part of our main activities, the MWEC has continuously promoted the role of women in Mongolian economic development, especially in the private sector, participated in policy and legislative discussions to make them friendlier for SMEs as well as micro family businesses and to deliver the voice of women entrepreneurs at the decision-making level in all areas of socio-economic policy making.
2018 is an important year for the policy advocacy. Our work has focused on amendments of laws that are vital for businesswomen, including a new draft version of the general laws on tax, amendments to the law on SMEs and the law on labour. We have held several meetings with women MPs as well as with tax and law firms in order to deliver specific proposals into the draft laws under discussions. These proposals have officially been submitted to legislators from MNCCI and MWEC. Although the results have been positive and some of our proposals have made it into the draft of the laws, we still must take more actions, particularly to amend the draft law on SMEs. Our main argument is the clause where they specify the limits under which SMEs qualify under this law. We view that the classifications are too low, do not reflect current economic conditions and have a negative impact of making companies smaller instead of assisting them to grow further. According to our calculations medium enterprises create on average 134 job places, small entities 34 while micro entities create only 5 jobs on average. Therefore, our proposal is to raise the size of entities as Micro/Small/Medium entities to 1/5/5 proportion. If this important clause is corrected, the new law will support significantly business activities of SMEs contributing to the economic growth, diversification and job creation.
- How many per cent do women constitute among all business people in Mongolia today? Which sectors are mainly led by women?
- Unfortunately, we do not have clear statistics on it. The reason is that Mongolia has not yet legally defined the classification of businesswoman/woman entrepreneur. Internationally, countries adopt legislation whereby they have specified women businesses as 51% women ownership or 25% of women ownership plus 50% of the working force are women. This situation makes it unclear if the governmental policies support women businesses. As for our Council, women represent about 30 per cent of total members of the MNCCI and they are mostly engaged in cashmere and wool manufacturing, food processing, health and education. Mongolian women entrepreneurs play an important role in the national economic growth by diversifying the economy, creating workplaces and producing export products, and as such we believe they should be recognised by our policy makers.
- How are Mongolian women entrepreneurs rated worldwide? Are there any international awards won by our businesswomen?
- In 2015, our members, B.Undarmaa, Founder and CEO of the ‘Bishrelt Group’ and U.Gerelmaa, Founder and CEO of the ‘Landex’ LLC were awarded the First Women Entrepreneurs Award by CACCI WEC. Starting from 2017 we have been presenting our women to the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Awards (IWEC) and so far 8 women from our MWEC have received awards including, T.Erdenechuluun, General Director of the ‘Gandirs’ LLC, B.Munkhzul, Director of the ‘Jur Ur’ LLC, B.Bolormaa, CEO of the ‘Mongol Em Impex JSC, T.Sansarmaa, Director of the ‘Trust’ company. Furthermore, Ch.Narantuya, Director of the ‘Snow Field’ company, D.Tungalag, Founder and President of the ‘Mondemon’ company and Ulziimaa, Founder and CEO of the ‘Yalguun’ company have been nominated for the awards for this year. CACCI has nominated me for the 2017 IWEC awards as well.
In addition, MWEC organised for the second consecutive year the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” in collaboration with the Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) joining stock exchanges in more than 60 countries and highlighting how the private sector can spur women’s participation in the global economy and promote sustainable development.
We believe, Mongolian women entrepreneurs do have a leading position as the global gender equality index shows. We are working together to remain successful and to make Mongolia a global brand that will triumph in the international arena.
- What certain actions are done by the Council to promote women entrepreneurs’ education and maximize their competitiveness? What are your future plans?
- I mentioned briefly about training workshops and discussions that the council holds as a part of our business development. Our Council holds a networking event every month. One of the key requests we receive from our members is for specialised training on how to lead organisations, women leadership, finding partners and raising finance. Some of our members have 20-25 years of experience in business and they are ready to share their knowledge, while other women, particularly in rural areas want to learn from such experiences. So, in 2017 we have established a mentoring club for women entrepreneurs at the initiative of our board members. We intend to hold training workshops on women’s leadership by leading practitioners, professionals and women leaders.
- The Conference of Women Entrepreneurs of Asia-Pacific Countries is approaching. What issues will be focused on at the meeting? What is the importance of this meeting for entrepreneurs?
- Mongolia will host this conference for the first time. The purpose of this conference is to discuss and present programmes available for women entrepreneurs from international organisations and local banks, boost business cooperation among women entrepreneurs as well as to discuss Mongolia’s potential exports and to seek partnership opportunities with businesswomen from Asia-Pacific countries. Rachel Freeman, Manager for IFC’s Financial Institutions and Asia-Pacific Affairs, is expected to give a key note speech followed by EBRD’s presentation on their SME programme. We also expect to hold a very interesting workshop on “Change Management” to be presented by the advisory services of PwC.
In addition to the conference events, together with CACCI WEC we will present awards to entrepreneurs from India and Bangladesh, and Mongolian women entrepreneurs in micro, rural and start-up businesses. We hope that this conference will promote Mongolia and Mongolian women entrepreneurs throughout the world while enabling them to access useful information for their businesses and develop partnerships with their Asia-Pacific counterparts during the event.
Source: Invest Pro Mongolia #3 (2018)