Zergile is a 54-year-old woman, married with two children. She is on pension and her primarily business is breeding livestock. She breeds sheep and cattle and sells milk and milk products, as well as cattle for meat to local butchers. Zergile has more than 10 years of experience in this field, thanks to her father who taught her how best to look after cattle.
Zergile usually buys small cattle or lambs, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months and resells them for a more profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. She sells milk and yoghurt to the neighbors. Milk- and meat-selling brings 150 AZN in income per month. Milk and yoghurt, as well as meat, are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes as pilau and dolma and always use yoghurt sauce. Milk products are considered as very healthy and are also present in everyday life.
This is only one financial income. Zergile applied for a loan of 1500 AZN to purchase one milk cow, one additional cow and five sheep. This will be her third loan from AqroInvest, and Zergile has a good client history. She wishes to save money and build her own house one day.
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.