Alibala P. is a 67-year-old trader who owns his business in Imishli in the the southern region of Azerbaijan. Alibala is married and has four children. He sells vegetables and fruits in the central street of Imishli. He has many clients among local people and he always gives discounts for permanent clients. Alibala has fifteen years of experience in this field and selling brought him and his family good income. But last year it was very hard for Alibala just to keep body and soul together because prices for products rose so much. He has decided to add some products and start selling potatoes and onions, because these products are in top demand. He has applied for 1200 USD for his purpose.
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.