Elmira is a 37-year-old woman; she is married with two children. She is a farmer and raises seasonal fruits and vegetables. She has more than 14 years in this field, which makes her an experienced and skilled person. She is the janitor at the local school, and her salary is just too low to cover basic family needs.
Elmira usually sells her crop in the central bazaar. People use fresh vegetables every day and consider them healthy—many national dishes are made of vegetables, such as pilau and dolma. Fresh fruits are served on every family’s table in Azerbaijan. They also use them to make fresh punch.
Elmira’s monthly income is 80 AZN. Raising crops takes a lot of strength and requires working in the open air, which is very hard for a woman, and that why her husband helps her. She needs additional capital to invest in seeds and fertilizers. This will allow her to improve the quality of products she raises and increase monthly turnover. For this purpose, she applied for 1000 AZN.
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.