Quoted by G.Ganchudur “Be brave, never lose your will and just DO IT”. 

Strategic support towards the youth remains crucial in Mongolia as figures have shown that youth unemployment at 17.9 percent is 3 times higher than the national average. Additionally, young graduates spend an average of 2.9 years to find stable employment. It is long overdue to resolve these conditions, especially in the timeframe of the 2030 agenda in which the youth act as one of the main drivers of the implementation of the 17 sustainable development goals which aim to end poverty, reduce inequality and stop climate change.

So how can the youth of Mongolia take the lead in turning their ideas into action and how does the enterprising lens of the Activated2030 project of the UNDP in Mongolia support this cause?

Activated2030 brings you the story of how one young Mongolian citizen turned his ideas into action by participating in the Mongol Enterprise Adventure organized between 27-28 October 2018.The Mongol Enterprise Adventure was lead by Activated2030 and co-organized by stakeholders of the project with the aim of activating Mongolian youth towards their desired enterprising (the act of getting things done) ventures.  

Find here the story of Ganchudur Ganbold, a local of the city of Erdenet of Mongolia and young entrepreneur , and his 6-steps to Design thinking, a process of finding and implementing new ideas within the enterprising lens: 

Step 1: Empathize- Identifying issues from the perspective of the user.

 After completing his undergraduate degree and returning to Erdenet, Ganchudur soon moved back to the capital city, Ulaanbaatar and started working there. It was then that he realized that despite the hustle and bustle of the city, people rarely walked. Ganchudur realized that the long hours spent at work and the lack of exercise amongst society could be the reason for various health issues faced by Mongolians. 

Step 2: Define-Conduct research on the issue and build your own conclusions

It was after the initial issue defining process that Ganchudur conducted research on existing services that encouraged walking amongst its consumers. He soon realized that most countries relied on the idea of the “walkable city”, or in other words, urban environments that provide substantive walking areas to its residents.  So what was Ganchudur’s idea on incentivizing people to walk more in Ulaanbaatar? Find out in the next step! 

Step 3: Ideate- Idea generation on resolving the issue

Based on his initial area of focus and the research that he had done, Ganchudur finally decided to build a mobile application that would encourage people to walk more by offering rewards such as discounts for different services across the city. Ganchudur named this application “10’000 steps” as users would have to walk this exact amount to earn their rewards. 

Step 4: Prototype- Build a basic version of your product

At this stage, Ganchudur had the idea of “10,000 steps” in his head for very long time but continued to face several challenges in starting its progress. However, these challenges become major learning experiences and helped him grow his project. This section will tag you along his journey in the development of “10’000 steps”. 

One of the earliest obstacles that Ganchudur faced was finding the right partners as he was soon to recognize that he would never be able to be successful working on his own.

As Ganchudur studied urban planning for his undergraduate degree, he was seeking partners with expertise in IT to collaborate on the project. Although he actively looked for partners through online posts and advertisements, he remained unsuccessful in his pursuit.  

Then one day, while eating buuz (a traditional Mongolian dish) for his lunch, Ganchudur overheard two young men talking about the opening of the Hub Innovation Centre in Ulaanbaatar city. Upon hearing the news, he went to visit the Hub innovation Centre and soon after, started working as community manager at the Centre. 

During his assignment at the Hub, Ganchudur met Sumiya, a fellow community member who would end up partnering on “10’000 steps” with him. Together they further developed the project but still lacked the IT expertise and knowledge.

Whenever they introduced their idea to others, they would continue to face the same question: “Where would the application earns its revenue?” . This continued to be a dilemma as their answer to this question was less than convincing causing them to face the same wall for an extensive period. 

Still unable to break down the wall, Ganchudur applied for the Mongol Enterprising Adventure. Despite entering with no expectations, Ganchudur soon realized during his participation that the aim of the event was to help young people find solutions to the hindrances that they faced in turning their ideas into action.   

At the Drive and Determination activity station of the Mongol Enterprising Adventure, participants presented their ideas to professional volunteers who excelled in various areas to gain their input and advice. This is where he met Gan-Erdene, the IT and Innovation Department Manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of Mongolia. They got along immediately and kept in touch even after the event. At first, Gan-Erdene started off mentoring Ganchudur and his partner, Sumiya on their project. However, it was not before soon that his link to their project transitioned from mentor to fellow partner. This was much to the delight of Ganchudur and Sumiya as they finally gained their long -awaited IT expertise for the project. Ganchudur expressed that “Gan-Erdene agreeing to work on the project was a major point of motivation as we thought that we’d never find someone to work on the technical development of our application”. 

Step 5: Test- Test the prototype and evaluate whether desired outcome has been achieved.

Through-out his journey, Ganchudur used to spend hours thinking about how to turn his idea into action and faced many challenges. Nonetheless, he never gave up. He learnt from the failures and developed the project further and met more people who share same visions and commitment for the “10’000 Steps” project.  

As a result, “10’000 Steps” project was selected in the Incubator Program of the Science, Industrial Development and Innovation Agency of Ulaanbaatar City. The application programming began in March 2019 and has made serious developments such as the writing of its code. The “10’000 Steps” team plans run a first test-drive of its application this September. 

This was a real-life adaptation of Design thinking and an example of how user-focused approaches as well as extensive research can result in major progress in turning one’s ideas into action!  

Although this blog story has come to an end, Ganchudur’s story is just getting started! Stay tuned to the UNDP in Mongolia website to find out how Ganchudur goes about Step 6: Implement or in Ganaa’s words, just DO IT! 

What about you? What is your story of turning your ideas into action? 

Feel free to share your personal experience with us by visiting the Contact us page.

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