Khatira S., the 55-year-old mother of seven children, rents a store where she sells cosmetics, women’s crèmes and underwear. This business, which she has operated for the past two years, earns permanent income and allows her family to live in normal conditions. As this is the family’s only source of income, Khatira does her best to make her business successful, always carrying a wide range of products and maintaining very friendly relationships with her customers. Kahtira is hoping to expand her business with a loan of $1500 to purchase more items for the store.
Aqroinvest Credit Union was founded in 2001 by a group of 32 farmers from Imishli. It has since grown to become the largest credit union in Azerbaijan, owned by its more than 5,400 borrowers and boasting a portfolio of nearly US$12 million.
AqroInvest is focused on providing loans to the following groups of people: rural farmers, people living in distant southern villages with little or no access to finance and internally displaced people and refugees, many of whom lost their homes and livelihoods during the violent conflicts in the 1990s.
In May 2011, Aqroinvest started a new project with Kiva proving higher education loans to students. The project gives students the support and financing they need to continue their education and helps pay for tuition fees at various universities in Azerbaijan. Aqroinvest is the first credit union in the country to offer students loans.