Zarovsha is a 49-year-old woman. She is married and has four children. She is an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) and lives with her family in the Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. She breeds cows and cattle and sells milk and milk products, as well as cattle for meat purposes to local butchers. She also raises sheep for meat purposes. Zarovsha has more than twenty years of experience in this field, thanks to her father who taught her the best way to look after cattle. Her husband works as builder and receives 80 AZN in salary, which is too low to support family.
Zarovsha usually buys small cattle, then raises and fattens them in 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 an income of 150 AZN per month. Milk and yoghurt, as well as beef and mutton, are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes such as pilau and dolma and always use yoghurt sauce. Milk products are considered to be very healthy and also are present in everyday life.
This is only one financial income in her family and not enough to cover the basic needs of her beloved children. Zarovsha applied for a 1,200 AZN loan to purchase two calves and one dairy cow. This will be her fifth loan and she has positive loan history.
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.