Arifa H. is 57, married, and has five children. She started her own business nine years ago because her husband at that time was unemployed. Arifa sells different kinds of food in the local market, such as candies, cookies, butter, yoghurt, tea and pastries. The generated income allows Arifa to support her family. Arifa dreams that all of her children will achieve a higher education.
Today, Arifa requests 2000 USD to purchase more food products to enlarge her range of goods. She is planning to spend the income on the well-being of her family as well as for educating her children.
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.