Qizbas, a 59-year-old married woman, raises fruits and vegetables in her garden. She started this business 15 years ago. She chose this field because fresh fruits and vegetables are very popular in Azerbaijan and people like to eat them and to make fresh juices, which is very healthy.
Her husband sells her crops in the central bazaar. He helps her because raising crops and working in the open air takes a lot of strength and is very hard for a woman.
Qizba's monthly income is 400 AZN. She needs additional capital to invest in seeds and fertilizer. This will allow her to improve the quality of products she raises and to increase her monthly turnover. For this purpose she applied for a 1500 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.