Polad B. is a 46-year-old married man who lives with his two children in Khoshchobanli village in southern Azerbaijan. Polad went into business in the year 2000, when he bought his first cow and buffalo. Polad carefully raised both animals, and today the cow produces generous amounts of milk. Now he has decided to expand his business and better provide for his family by buying one grown milk cow, one calf and enough fodder to feed the calf while it is growing up. Polad estimates that the cost of the cow is $700, the calf $300 and the fodder $200.
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.