Shamsiyya Q. is a 38-year-old woman who works as a cosmetologist and hairdresser in a small saloon in Saatli, Azerbaijan. She started working in 2006 when her husband lost his job.
Shamsiyya is married and has three children. Her business was the only financial source for the last four years and it was only several month ago that her husband found a job.
But Shamsiyya is going to increase her income by doing make-up for brides. She applied for 900 AZN to purchase make-up tools and cosmetics.
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.