Zahida is a 40-year-old, single woman. She is IDP (internally displaced people) and lives in Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. Zahida has bred sheep for more than 10 years. She receives 50 AZN monthly financial support from the government, but this is too low to cover family needs.
Zahida usually buys lambs, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months and then resells for a more profitable price in the livestock bazaar. Her brother helps her to look after the cattle and sell them in the bazaar. Her monthly income is 100 AZN and this business is the main source of financial income in her family.
Meat is in very high demand in Azerbaijan and people use it in everyday dishes like pilau and dolma. Zahida wants to expand her business and improve her life conditions. She applied for 900 AZN loan to purchase one baby calf 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.