Field Advisor Spotlight: Battsetseg 'Bagi' Jaavaa

Give2Asia works highly qualified field advisors in 25 countries, providing on-the-ground insight into each local scene in addition to compelling projects that have been accomplished or are currently underway. Take a behind-the-scenes look with our field advisors here on the Give2Asia blog. We' continue our spotlight series with Battsetseg 'Bagi' Jaavaa, our field advisor in Mongolia. 

 
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Where do you live?

I live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, or just UB, which is home to nearly half of our entire population of 3 million. It is often referred to as the coldest capital city in the world with temperatures reaching as cold as -40C.

Where in Mongolia and Asia have you traveled? Is there some place you want to travel?

I have traveled to the eastern, western and northern provinces (aimags) of Mongolia. I hope to travel south one day, where the famous Gobi Desert is situated. In the Asia Pacific, I’ve been to China; Japan; South Korea, North Korea, Malaysia; Singapore and New Zealand. I want to go to France, Italy, and Thailand in the future.

How did you get involved with Give2Asia?

I lived in San Francisco from 2011 to 2014 as my husband was posted to the Consulate General of Mongolia there. I joined G2A initially as an intern and I was impressed with the scope and reach of G2A’s work benefiting Asian communities. Later, I was promoted to a Program Associate and provided support to the grant administration process. Still later, I was offered the Field Advisor position in Mongolia upon my relocation back here and was very excited about it. It is an honor to be part of the leading philanthropic service provider for Asia. My responsibilities are to act as bridge linking G2A and the grantees and provide support in the grant making process by conducting due diligence and reviewing proposals and reports.


What do you do when you’re not working for G2A?

Since my arrival in Mongolia, I undertook a short-term consultancy assignment at the Mongolia Office of the Global Green Growth Institute. Most part of last and this year, I was on a professional break due to maternity leave. Now that my newborn is almost a toddler, I recently started working at one of the largest media and digital content company in Mongolia. I haven’t worked in the media sector, nor in the private sector, so it is an interesting change for me.

What is the one thing Give2Asia’s community of donors and grantees should know about the social sector in Mongolia?

Mongolia is currently facing an economic crisis due to various factors, including the fall in the value of commodities and decreased foreign investment. Because of this, people are being laid off of work, and businesses are shutting their doors. This puts the social sector of Mongolia in jeopardy because our social protection and safety net is not very strong. According to the most recent statistics, almost one person out of five is living below the poverty line (21%). That’s why philanthropic giving and grantmaking from donor community is crucial at this critical moment.  

What do you think are the greatest challenges that non-profits face in Mongolia?

A majority of the non profits rely heavily on funding from foreign donors, individuals and companies. Many of these operations are not viable in the long term due to lack of self-sustainable income and funding.

 

How is it being a Field Advisor in Mongolia specifically?

There are a certain number of individual donors making grants to Mongolia, and currently there are two active Fiscal Sponsorship partners. But the corporate grantmaking towards Mongolia is quite limited, perhaps, mostly because of their non-operation in Mongolia owing to our small market size.

What are your expectations for the future development of the Mongolia?

We just had a parliamentary election in June. The people are expecting a lot from the newly elected government in terms of how to safely navigate through and get out of this ongoing crisis. So the future development and prosperity of Mongolia largely depends on the prudent policies and measures to be pursued by the new government. Given the significant progress in the social sector of Mongolia in the past decade, there is now more room for NGOs to address the socio-economic consequences and development challenges, which I certainly hope to see.

Is there anything else you would like to say our community of donors and grantees?

There are many capable and devoted NGOs in Mongolia that are making great strides to address the needs and gaps in the social sector. I would like to encourage G2A’s community of donors to make grants to Mongolia through those dedicated NGOs.

How many languages do you speak?

Mongolian, English, Turkish, some Russian and some survival Japanese.

What is your favorite food?

In addition to our own traditional food like steamed dumplings which is called buuz and khuushuur which is meat-filled fried dumpling; I like Japanese seafood. As I lived in Istanbul for 5 years, Turkish cuisine is definitely one of my favorites.

What are your interests?

I enjoy watching ballet and opera; here in UB we have the State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, which regularly stages world-class performances. My all time favorite ballet is “Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky. I also like exploring cultures, sometimes by watching historical and exploratory documentaries.