Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For driving digital transformation in Mongolia as the country’s youngest Cabinet member

Mongolia is the world’s most sparsely populated country, with more than 3 million people spread out across 1.6 million square kilometers (617,763 square miles). Growing up in a rural area, Bolor-Erdene Battsengel experienced the beauty of those seemingly endless vistas—as well as the frustration of living hours away from facilities providing government services. 

Looking to remedy that access problem, Battsengel collaborated with the University of Oxford and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct an in-depth research project called Nomads in the Digital Age. "It was the first study to examine Mongolia’s level of preparedness to capture digital opportunities and solve development challenges," Battsengel says. 

That project laid the groundwork for Mongolia’s national digital strategy, which aims to transform the country into a digital nation by weaving advanced communication and IT across all corners of the society and economy. Battsengel’s proposed goal was as vast as Mongolia’s plains: digitize all of the country’s government services to allow convenient access for residents. 

Called e-Mongolia, the platform was launched in October 2020. And by March 2022, 650 public services from 60 public agencies had been integrated into the system—delivering services through web portals and mobile apps to more than 2 million registered users.

That robust adoption belies the early hesitancy of many Mongolians. Battsengel says: "At first, citizens were skeptical about getting public services online." 

To win them over, she and her team opened a customer center in the central post office in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. More than 100 people visit each day, while those unable to access the hands-on help are connected to a call center. 

By integrating all government services and delivering them online, Battsengel says e-Mongolia saves MNT46 billion yearly through improved efficiencies and lower fuel costs. The price of convenience is harder to capture, but no less important. Case in point: Battsengel met with a herder who used to drive five hours to access government services and is now able to access those same services through his smartphone. 

Even with the success of e-Mongolia, Battsengel keeps hitting refresh. At 29, she’s the youngest leader in the current Cabinet, now serving as secretary of state in the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications. And since then, she has unleashed a flurry of projects, including the launch of a Girls for Coding program to provide rural schoolgirls—like Battsengel was once—with access to training in both English and coding.