Zumrud is a 46-year-old married woman with two children. She's been growing seasonal fruits and vegetables for the last 7 years. During autumn, winter and spring she primarily grows pumpkins. Pumpkin is a very popular product, and people consider it as one of the healthiest. People use it in national dishes such as qutab and pilau. One of the main positive features of pumpkin is that it can stand for more than two months and not rot. Zumrud usually sells her crops in the central bazaar as well as to neighbors. Her monthly income is 350 Azerbaijani manats (AZN).
Now Zumrud wants to increase the number of products she sells. She needs additional capital to invest in her business to buy seeds and fertilizers. AqroInvest Credit Union provided her with a 1000 AZN loan.
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.