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Providing the engines of growth

Interview - April 16, 2014
Montruck is a leading vehicle and machinery provider to mining, agriculture and road construction sector established in 1992. President of the group, Ms. Uranchimeg, was voted businesswoman of the year in 2011. In this interview with United World, she speaks about her experience and how it led her to setting up one Mongolia’s top 100 companies
You work in various sectors and in 2011, you organized all the companies in the group in order to contribute more to the national development of Mongolia, especially the mining and road sectors. What was that process of organization? 

The company was the first company that used to sell heavy trucks in Mongolia. Later, our company started importing road, construction and mining related machineries from China in 2001. When I first started this business, people had little knowledge about Chinese trucks. Now, almost 50 to 60% of the all machineries being used in mining sector are being imported from China. 
Our company’s operation is to supply machineries essential to sectors including road construction, construction and mining, geology, exploration and extraction. One of the priorities of Mongolia is to advance and develop agricultural sector. Thus we imported agriculture related machineries and equipment in terms of a cooperation with Ministry of Industry and Agriculture. These are the business lines we are currently pursuing. 
Generally, the business of importing road, construction and mining related machinery is usually not conducted by local companies. In this regard, as we are a fully local company, we have certain unique qualities and advantages. We are importing machinery suitable to operate in the weather and environment conditions of Mongolia. Our company organized a movement to seek support from the government to national companies. As our country is located between two neighbors, there are certain hardships involved in conducting a business.

In addition, as the government policy towards protecting national business companies from foreign companies is weak, there is a risk of being defeated by foreign invested companies with high quality technologies due to financing and machineries requirements. Thus it is hard to maintain a stable operation for national companies. In this regard, we organized an event in 2011 among all national companies and expressed our views in the public media and to the government. As a result, the government pursued more active policy towards encouraging national companies in 2011 and 2012. 
Which are the projects that you are more proud of along this year? What are the projects that contributed more to the national development?

I think we successfully stabilized our operation of importing machineries from China. The country business is quite dependent on the Chinese market. The market in China is highly developed and in Mongolia it is in its infancy. There are many types of machine factories in China, both public and private. I think I have worked successfully to bring quality machineries from China for the benefit of the country and sector development. As per my business, even though my major is totally different from what I’m currently doing, I have gained knowledge over machineries, its maintenance and driving. I’m proud of this aspect as a businesswoman. 
As you have mentioned, agriculture is the backbone of Mongolia. How are you beginning to develop in the agricultural sector as well? 

In Mongolia, we are focusing too much on mining and construction. Agriculture has started to fall behind. In 2012, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, we imported 8400 trucks for the agricultural sector and opened agricultural machineries trade points in five western provinces in Mongolia. Now, again in cooperation with the ministry, we won a tender worth 40 million MNT to supply agricultural trucks, and we are currently working on it now. The agricultural sector of Mongolia has been developing based on manual works. Our company’s main purpose is to import large numbers of agricultural machineries and operate 5 centers throughout Mongolia more actively. 

We have been with all the road companies, which are 100 percent national companies, because there are more of them than Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi. We want to show all these investment opportunities. Montruck Group is a brand itself and a part of the history of the country. Because you have an important image here, I would like to know how you would like to attract foreign investors? 

At this moment, our company has unused assets, land and mining licenses of, for example coal, gold, and fluorspar on which we pay land fee and other payments. In case we could attract foreign investors, we have documents that show how profitable the mine can be etc. In order to attract foreign investors, economic estimates of those mines shall be prepared for them. We have land as an asset in Ulaanbaatar yet we need financing to economize this land. This land can be used even for 5 to 6 star international chain hotels. 
In 2011, you were voted the best businesswoman in Mongolia. In 2013, your company was 92 in the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce ‘s Top 100. If you looks back and pick the most valuable lesson that you have learnt, what that would be? 

I always think of constructing something that is useful to many people’s lives and long lasting. To relate this, I will tell you a story: There is a town called “Gordok” for extremely poor people to the north of Nalaikh district in Ulaanbaatar city. Historically, the Russian army used to be settled in that town. Once the army moved out of the country, extremely poor people moved in. In 2012, I built a stupa, on which I spent 300 million MNT, on the top of the mountain to let them pray for their own beliefs.  

That area where the stupa was built is the place where the parents of Chinggis Khaan used to live. Since then, it is said that lots of people’s lives have improved. The town used to be all neglected, yet now lots of people are living there. 
Please tell us about your professional background.

I was born and grew up in the western side of Mongolia. I have graduated from 3 universities. My major is gynecology. However, I didn’t work in my major and entered into the business sector, as at that time, the business sector was developing rapidly in Mongolia. I started my business career as a trader in 1993 along with the business sector development of Mongolia.

At that time, wood trade, beer importing, cotton manufacturing, utility manufacturing etc. were common types of business and I was involved in all of it. During my business career, I gained lots of experience and felt the hardships as well as opportunities in doing business by myself.

Also, at that time, due to regulations, the beer importing business was changing as the government encouraged producing beer domestically. As certain businesses deemed to be unattractive, I got an idea that by entering into a business of importing machineries related to road and construction sector which is the key to the country’s development, I can contribute to my country’s development. Wagner Asia