The project that is the origin of Good Growth - improving livelihoods for nomadic herders
Numerous factors threatened the nomadic way of life in Mongolia - a pressure to industrialise agriculture; a shift to cities and a growing semi-nomadic population; the end of Soviet managed herding had led to rapid increases in herd sizes; globalised supply chains robbed herders of any pricing power and removed income from primary processing.
We worked with ADB to develop a program which focused on place - articulating the intrinsic value in the relationship between herder and nature to market through brands. This model - shifting producers of "raw materials" from the end of the chain to the centre of the story - and then doing that within a regenerative context, is at the heart of Good Growth.
As the designers of the strategy we were acutely aware of the challenges in delivery. Brands on their own could not shift the dynamics - the supply chains needed to be redesigned from the places out for the strategy to work. As a corollary it became clear that all the financing of the system also needed to be aligned for this to happen - a whole system approach was the only way to succeed.
This tabula rasa approach led directly to Good Growth - the only way to integrate business into place is by designing business from place.
What we did
We developed a branding strategy for Mongolian products - focused on the stories of place, the connection between people and nature. The products would initially be "brands-within-brands" - Mongolian place brands within established product brands such as Ren cosmetics or Nicole Farhi. Subsequently the products would evolve into 100% Mongolian brands.
The ADB project was a success. It has been through several iterations but has resulted in several successful Mongolian businesses and brands, as well as significant investment in urban centres.
Yet the problems of rural rangeland herders persist, and in the past decade animal numbers have increased massively, putting even more pressure on a fragile environment.
The missing link is a whole system design from ecosystem out - a challenge Good Growth now addresses.