Maarif, 58 years old, is married and has three children. He is a market vendor and farmer at the same time, having sold fruit for more than 10 years. During these years, Maarif has acquired the knowledge and skills required for the business. For instance, he knows how to store the fruits to keep their marketable conditions and not lose their taste and useful properties.
Maarif sells fruit such as apples, peaches and pomegranates in the local central market, where he is known among people because of his attractive prices and characteristic friendliness. All this allows Maarif’s business to generate a considerable stable income for his family.
Due to the current season, Maarif’s goods are in high demand. Therefore, he is requesting a loan of 2,000 AZN to purchase seeds and fertilizers to increase his crop for next season. He wishes to save enough money from his retail sales and rebuild his house.
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.