Empowering Women through Entrepreneurship (UC Berkeley)

Team Members: Peter Bittner, Katie J. Niemeyer

School: UC Berkeley

Big Ideas LogoWomen living in the squatter settlements of Ulaanbaatar are among the most financially and educationally disadvantaged in Mongolia. The squatter areas—commonly known as “ger districts”—are mainly comprised of recently-migrated nomadic herders. Ger districts make up over 60% of the capital city’s population and have tens of thousands of new arrivals each year. The newly-settled nomads face difficulties in the urban job market due to stark cultural differences between rural and urban lifestyles and a mismatch of employable skills. The challenges of finding employment can result in alcoholism, domestic violence, and cyclical poverty. Women in the squatter settlements need confidence, practical knowledge, and access to capital in order to break from patriarchal gender roles that often prevent them from reaching their full potential as business and community leaders. Through structured small-group support, this project provides impoverished female migrants with information, skills, and low-interest microloans in order to develop their small businesses and foster more economically-resilient communities.