Kamala Q. is a 23-year-old farmer who sells vegetables from her garden to the local bazaar traders. She lives in the 2nd IDPs settlement in Bilasuvar region. Kamala is an internally displaced person who fled from Jabrail region to Bilasuvar in 1993 during Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict. She started her business in 2003 when she was only 20. This idea came to her mind when she felt that very soon she and her family could stay hungry. With saved money, she purchased seeds of some vegetables and during the summer she sold most of her harvest. With the money from her first harvest she saved money for autumn and winter. She is still raising vegetables, but now she wants to expand her business and to rent land for planting and raising more vegetables. For this purpose she has applied for 800 USD.
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.