Rasim J. is 51 years old, married, and has two children. He lives in southern Azerbaijani village Alisoltanli, near Saatli region. Rasim opened his small food store in 1996, when he borrowed some money from his friends. In the beginning, the only items he sold were various sweets. The store revenues increased rapidly, and Rasim was able to start selling also cookies, tea and canned products. Even though the store now brings good income to Rasim to cover his family's needs, he would like to expand the variety of goods for sale at the store, and therefore needs a loan of US$1,200 for the purchase of meat and dairy products.
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.