Zeynab is 43 years old, married and the mother of four children. She is an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) who lives in the Bilasuvar IDP Settlement, where she has earned a living for the last six years by breeding cattle. She was a housewife, but her husband is unemployment and she is now the family's sole means of support.
Zeynab usually buys young cows, raises and fattens them for five or six months, and then resells for a profit at the local livestock bazaar. Her monthly income is AZN 300. Demand for her products is strong because meat is in very high demand in Azerbaijan, where it is used in everyday dishes such as pilau and dolma. Zeynab also keeps additional cows for milking. Some of this milk is used by her family and some is sold to neighbors.
Zeynab wants to expand her business and improve her family's living conditions. She is requesting a loan for AZN 1,000 to buy one baby calf and one milk cow. This will be her second loan. She has a good credit 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.