Oqtay is 56 years old, married and the father of two children. For the last 12 years, he has earned a living by running a store where he sells flour, beverages, macaroni, butter, candies and other items. His store is in a good location and he has a deep knowledge of the market and the needs of his customers. He earns about 200 AZN a month, and gets help from his wife, who buys many of the products he sells and brings them to the shop. He is applying for a loan for 2,000 AZN to buy more food products to sell to his customers.
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.