Heydar is a 39-year-old man, married with three children. He is an internally displaced person (IDP) and lives with his family in Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. He breeds cows and cattle and sells milk and milk products as well as cattle for meat purposes to local butchers. Heydar has more than 10 years of experience in this field, thanks to his father who taught him the best ways to look after cattle.
Heydar usually buys small cattle, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months and resells them for more profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. Milk and yoghurt he sells to the neighbors. Milk and meat selling brings him an income of 120 AZN per month. Milk and yoghurt, as well as meat are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes such as pilau and dolma and always use yoghurt souse. Milk products are considered as very healthy and also present in everyday life.
This is only one financial income in his family and it is not enough to cover the basic needs of his beloved children. Heydar applied for a loan of 1200 AZN to purchase two cattle and one milking cow.
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.