Announcement Archive

Impact Highlight (MFToT): Nergui Sandagjav spreads microfinance know-how to Mongolia

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

story from Tokyo Development Learning Center

What is MFTOT?

Microfinance Training of Trainers (MFTOT) is a distance learning course launched in 2005 by the Asian Development Bank Institute, the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center—a member of GDLN Asia Pacific, and the United Nations Capital Development Fund.

  MFTOT makes quality training in microfinance accessible to more decision-makers, professionals and practitioners in the Asia Pacific region and beyond, through blended learning. Accredited trainers and countries covered continue to rise in number as efforts continue in a pursuit to strengthen the institutional capacity of microfinance—in the region and around the world.

On to Nergui’s story…

Mongolia, home of Genghis Khan, the Gobi desert, and mountains and plains, is in a state of poverty. One in three people is described as being poor. Studies in recent years have shown that over a fifth of the population lives below an international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

Nergui Sandagjav, MFTOT’s first certified tutor in Mongolia, poses for a picture at her newly-launched NGO TERI’s office in Ulaanbaatar June 3, 2009. TDLC/Photo courtesy of Nergui Sandagjav

Nergui Sandagjav began working as a microcredit specialist for the National Poverty Alleviation Program of Mongolia, funded by the World Bank, in 1996. Since then, she has been active in credit policy development and has trained government officials, central bank and commercial bank practitioners on microcredit policy and program implementation, and assessed client needs and feedback. Having also worked on the design and development of new products and services, she’s monitored development fund projects in the renovation of schools, rural hospitals, and water supply systems. “My work has guided me on a journey of learning. It was very interesting to combine the financial issues with social orientation. I’ve never left the field.”

“Unemployment among the economically active population is 30 percent in 2007, according to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia.  With minimum wages equaling $80 per month, the difference between the rich and poor is widening more, year by year,” Nergui explains. “About 50 percent of the population in the capital live in very poor housing conditions, where there is limited access to clean drinking water and bathrooms.”

Nergui’s Journey with MFTOT

With professional experience abroad as microcredit and rural development specialist for a United Nations development program in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Nergui was hungry for more. Aspiring to expand her knowledge in microfinance, she took an MFTOT course in 2005 and became the course’s first certified trainer in Mongolia. She now tutors with 13 fellow trainers who have, since then, also become certified in her country. “I am so glad to have taken this course. It met my expectation, and it was my first experience with online education. This is a course for practitioners to expand and expand their theoretical skills.”

Nergui Sandagjav (L) smiles with fellow MFTOT tutor Minh Thai from Vietnam during a break while attending a conference “Building Inclusive Financial Sectors for Development” organized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund in New York November 7, 2005. TDLC/Photo courtesy of Nergui Sandagjav

For Nergui, the most valued impact that MFTOT has made has been an extension of her professional network worldwide, and the increased opportunities it provides for cooperation on various microfinance initiatives. 

She also says that MFTOT has helped to expand her knowledge of distance learning and blended teaching. “These training skills are not only applicable for microfinance training; they are applicable to any other development-oriented training.” The soft-spoken tutor says that while helping her students to increase their knowledge on microfinance, the course has enabled them to understand the online education system, very new in developing countries. “The MFTOT course has helped to build technical capacity in microfinance.”

NGO Launch

This February, Nergui launched an NGO, together with colleagues. It’s called TERI: Training, Evaluation, Research Institute, powered by the marriage of her experience and the expertise of her colleagues, armed with strong field experience in low income areas, poor communities and crucial issues such as water sanitation.

Nergui Sandagjav attends a two-day United Nations Capital Development Fund conference in New York November 7, 2005. TDLC/Photo courtesy of Nergui Sandagjav

“We need high quality training, evaluation and research in the areas of poverty reduction and sustainable development,” she stresses. “We need to contribute to deeper understanding of the causes of inequality and poverty, and disseminate knowledge on successful strategies.”

Still new and small and struggling with funding, TERI is now busy at work localizing the MFTOT course material into Mongolian. Final efforts are being made on voice recordings for an interactive CD-ROM, aimed for completion before the next course, MFTOT6, scheduled for later this month.

“I hope we can reach out to more people in the local language, to microfinance practitioners and academic students, and enable them to study the learning material in their own language.”

Once the learning package is prepared and ready, TERI is planning to promote it as an elective course for universities.

Nergui is the mother of adult children currently living in the United States. Because of her ongoing work in development, they moved several times, from school to school, while growing up. “They are very supportive; they understand my job now.”

Nergui’s husband, Erdene-ochir, has also been a steady rock of support. He returned to Mongolia last year after taking an English course in the United States and “has come to truly realize the issues of development”.  The small business owner has taken on the NGO’s administration duties, and has now agreed to step in as CEO.

“Even my husband has agreed to join this NGO,” Nergui says brightly.

Her passion seems to be spreading.