A recent project that has been very exciting is the Sukhbaatar Social Business Community Fund, which is a cross-sector project spanning between Health and Community Economic Development.
It was envisioned after several conversations with my local friends and colleagues, and quite a bit of personal research on the idea of social business, which demonstrated that many small businesses in our community only need a little bit of money to get started and make huge changes in the fabric of everyone's lives. Together with our friends at the Mercy Corps office, including Peace Corps CED Volunteer Alex Lyddon, our team embarked on designing, planning and fundraising for several community businesses which will serve as the core of this social business community fund movement. These businesses will pay back the money they have borrowed, without interest, and that money will be made available through the community fund to support other small social businesses. This will not only offer economic opportunities for families to pull themselves out of poverty, but also offer very real social improvements to the community through addressing challenges in the areas of education, nutrition, exercise and healthy community engagement.
After months of preparation, the community stores are now being built. It is an exciting time not only for us as advisors and Volunteers, but most of all for our community friends who own the project. They are deciding their own future, developing their own solutions to problems and becoming the change they know their community needs.