The Ligiin Ukhaa Story
Ligiin Ukhaa is a small farm located about 60 kilometers southwest of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Urtnasan Tumurkhuyag was born on this land, and has lived here with his family ever since. Tumurkhuyag learned to make cheese from a Dutch cheesemaker about 20 years ago, and he has persevered through many hardships to continue in this craft.
In August 2014, Tumurkhuyag was facing foreclosure and as a result, lost the majority of his herd of over 100 cows. At that time, he met Mike Morrow, the owner of a small business in Mongolia called Steppe Learning, which is involved in English language training. Mike helped to rescue the business and has been partnering with Tumurkhuyag to help this little cheese farm become viable again.
At full capacity, this small farm should be able to produce 10 metric tons of cheese each year. This would require 100-150 cows, but unfortunately, Tumurkhuyag has only seven cows at present. He has no choice but to purchase milk from his neighbors, which is not only twice as expensive but also means paying cash upfront for a product that will require six months or more before it can be sold for a return.
Our goal for this fundraising project is to raise enough funds to purchase just one dairy cow (approx. $1200-1300 each). If we are able to reach our goal of $1500 for this project, then every additional $1500 will allow us to buy one more cow. It would be great if we could purchase up to 10 cows which, along with the current 7 cows and the 5 calves born this spring, should be able to produce about 25% of the necessary milk needed to produce at full capacity. But for now, we'll focus on getting ONE COW AT A TIME!
The Mongolian Distinctive
Although Mongolia is not traditionally known for European-style cheeses, it is actually an ideal place due to the high quality of milk. Not only is the environment still relatively natural and untouched, but the range-fed cows produce extremely nutritious milk as would be needed by calves in a harsh environment. This results in a cheese that is rich and delicious, and it's not so far-fetched to imagine that Mongolia may eventually become well-known as a place where high-quality Western cheeses are made. We are hoping that Ligiin Ukhaa will not only thrive as a business but quite possibly become a model that can be replicated in other rural areas in Mongolia.
Thank You Gifts for our Backers!
More than anything, we would love to offer a sample of our delicious cheese as a reward for all our backers, but unfortunately, we are not able to do so because we don't have a process established for importing cheese into various countries, including the U.S.
Our supporters at $5 and above will receive our deepest gratitude in a personal email and the knowledge that you are taking part in a venture all the way in Mongolia, PLUS updates on the farm's progress. In addition, we hope these little "rewards" will provide incentive to back us at higher levels:
All backers at the $25 level and above will be acknowledged on a thank you board, which will be posted on the wall of our cheese plant. (No sample yet, as we will need to figure this out depending on the number of backers.)
All backers at the $250 level and above will have an open invitation to visit the Ligiin Ukhaa farm for a day. Transportation to Ulan Bator will not be provided, of course, but we will happily drive you to and from the city so you can see the cows and taste our delicious cheese for yourself. Depending on timing, you might even be able to see the cheese making process as well.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge will be to get the word out to potential sponsors and provide attractive incentives. Unlike projects based in the U.S., we can't offer cheese as a reward, nor can most of our backers easily visit the farm. We hope that the knowledge that you are helping a worthy cause and even contributing to the future economy of Mongolia will be sufficient incentive for now, and we'd love for you to visit the farm if you ever visit Mongolia. Please help us to spread the word to others who might be interested!
Another big challenge for us will be the distance itself. While we will do our best to make sure to update our backers, we'd also appreciate your patience and understanding if we can't be as consistent as we'd like to be. Also, doing business in a foreign land is going to mean different challenges and unpredictable setbacks. Fortunately, Mike has done business in Asia for decades, so we are confident that he has the resources and network to work through issues that may arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)