Sharifa is a 56-year-old woman, married with seven children. She is an internally displaced person (IDP) and lives in Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. Sharifa has bred cattle for the last 10 years. She was a housewife and her husband's salary was too low to cover the family needs, so Sharifa decided to start her business. She receives 120 AZN in financial support from government monthly, but this is too low to cover the family's needs.
Sharifa usually buys small calves, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months and then resells fora more profitable price in the livestock bazaar. Her monthly income is 230 AZN and this business is main source of financial income in her family.
Meat is in very high demand in Azerbaijan and people use it in everyday dishes like pilau and dolma.
Sharifa wants to expand her business and improve the life conditions of her family. She applied for a 1500 AZN loan to purchase three cows and fodder.
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.