Zahir A. is 37 years old. He is a farmer who has been breeding sheep for the last three years. He sells them to the local butchers. Zahir is married and has two children. He lives and works in Imishli city where the main livestock bazaar is located so he does not need to go a long way to sell his sheep. He usually sells sheep to the local butchers and to the restaurants, as mutton is very popular among Azerbaijani people. Zahir is going to develop his business. He applied for a loan of 1,000 AZN in order to purchase 14 sheep and fodder.
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.