17 Oct The Noble Nomads GmbH: The environmentally friendly products of Mongolian nomads
– One thing led to another… –
At the start of 2017, Schäfer met with the Mongolian computer scientist Munkhbold Bold regarding a business start-up consultation session. The business idea and vision of the 31-year-old inspired Schäfer. The young man’s plan: to import high-quality and ecologically sustainable raw materials and traditional products from Mongolia to Germany for further processing by creative businesses and individuals.
Bold knew everything about raising farm animals, the production of cashmere and camel wool as well as how to naturally tan leather from goats, cattle, and sheep using nomadic production methods. He knew the quality of the raw materials, the production sustainability, as well as the customs and peculiarities of trading with nomads. After all, he himself comes from a nomadic family and knows all about the rough life of living outdoors since he was a child. In addition to all this, his parents had already founded a company. In 1991, immediately after the democratization of Mongolia, they founded BULNAI TRADE LLC, specializing in the import and export of basic foodstuffs and agricultural products from and to China, Russia, and Ulan Bator.
– Tradition –
In accordance with nomadic tradition, the first-born son of the family – Tselmeg Bold – now runs his parents’ company. After studying computer science and economics, he began to take over the family business, while his brother Munkhbold Bold, who is almost two years younger, was able to go to Germany in 2005 as he did not have such a family commitment. There he learned the language and culture, studied computer science, worked as a research assistant at the University of Dresden and as a programmer in a medium-sized software company before finally meeting Stephan Schäfer in Berlin in 2017.
– Directly from the producer –
Everything felt right, and the brother’s enthusiasm for their business ideas, which they had been fostering as early as 2015, quickly was picked up by Schäfer as well. The advantages of such a venture are obvious: high-quality and reasonably priced products directly from the producer, without the need for costly intermediaries. The NOBLE NOMADS range of products is primarily designed for business customers: The GmbH provides direct and controlled access to sustainably produced goat, sheep, and cow leather as well as cashmere and camel wool. In addition to bulk orders, very small quantities can also be purchased. This is particularly interesting for designers who want to produce individual handbags or original designs, such as for a clothing collection. However, this also makes high-quality wool and leather products from the hands of traditionally producing nomads also suitable for resale as well.
– NOBLE NOMADS GmbH –
The “noble nomads” opted to register themselves as a GmbH. In addition to the limited liability of the shareholders, Schäfer also mentions another advantage: “If necessary, we can relatively easily take on further shareholders and increase the business capital. Schäfer and Munkhbold Bold are currently the company’s managing directors. Tselmeg Bold works exclusively from Mongolia and is responsible for supplier support, research as well as the development and manufacture of the products. Currently, three other employees are responsible for sales, customer service, marketing, online shop, and social media.
The two managing directors consider the official legal requirements as the greatest hurdle standing in their way. With a sigh, Schäfer explains the complex regulations for importing animal products from outside the EU and the associated customs issues.
“Also the special desires of our customers are not to be ignored, says Munkhbold Bold. “Designers, for example, are very special people, real artists, who always have new ideas.
– Support designers –
Schäfer adds that this is exactly what he loves: working with creative people. He proudly refers to a few creative highlights in the company’s history to date: “A well-known Mongolian designer has designed a ladies’ and a men’s handbag for NOBLE NOMADS and has already produced a small first edition herself. And the pictures of the famous Mongolian painter G Munkhtsetseg are printed on a cashmere scarf made by us”. The two managing directors are also pleased about the cooperation with the German barefoot shoe manufacturer Senmotic and emphasize how satisfying it is to be an “important part of a product creation chain”. The opportunity of getting to work together with new, innovative people is especially a motivating driving point for the new entrepreneurs.
„We want to enable young, creative people to make their dreams come true“
It is not for nothing, that the “noble nomads” carry the honorific title within their company name. The free promotion of talent is just as important to them as the ecological sustainability and responsible entrepreneurship of their business as well. Three percent of the proceeds go to charitable projects for nature conservation and the promotion of artists in Mongolia and Germany. “In the future, we would like to intensify this even further,” says Schäfer. “We want to enable young, creative people to realize their dreams,” adds Bold. “We would also like to help unknown up-and-coming designers and fashion students. In the future, the two managing directors want to expand and become an established trader on the market for ecologically sustainable raw materials. Schäfer and Bold also want to promote the transfer of knowledge about the nomads’ way of life. They will continue to rely on the support of Berliner Volksbank.
“After just a few weeks, we had the feeling that we were not just one company among many, but a partner at the same level with Volksbank’s advisors,” says Schäfer.
The managing directors work hard for their goals to fulfill their vision. Their workday usually begins at 7 a.m. with a telephone conference between Berlin and Ulan Bator and often ends at 10 p.m.
“Life as a nomad is harder,” says Bold with a laugh. “You are exposed to wind and weather, sometimes you have to sit in a horse saddle all day long, adjust to new situations with the herd, and wait for a replacement part for a defective car for a week.
“But the German authorities can be rather difficult as well,” says Bold, with a large friendly smile from ear to ear.