Tahir is a 42-year-old man, married, with three children. He is an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and lives with his family in the Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. He breeds cattle and sells milk and milk products as well as cattle for meat to local butchers. Tahir has more than 10 years of experience in this field, thanks to his father, who taught him the best ways to look after cattle. He receives 80 AZN a month in financial support from government, but that is too little to cover his family's needs.
Tahir usually buys young cattle, raises and fattens them for 5 or 6 months, and resells them for a profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. Milk and yogurt, he sells to his neighbors. The milk and meat sales bring 160 AZN income a month. Milk and yogurt, as well as meat, are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes like pilau and dolma, and they always use yogurt. Milk products are considered very healthy, and they are also present in everyday life.
This is his family's only income, and it is not enough to cover the basic needs of his beloved children. Tahir applied for a loan of 1,000 AZN to purchase two cattle and one milk 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.