Sakina is a 58-year-old widow who is raising four children alone. She is an IDP and lives in Bilasuvar IDP Settlement. She receives a pension, but it is too low to cover the needs of her beloved children. Sakina has been breeding cattle for the last 20 years.
Sakina usually buys small calves, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months, and then resells them for a more profitable price in the livestock bazaar. Her monthly income is 180 Azerbaijani manats (AZN), and this is the only 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. Sakina also keeps milking cows for personal use and for selling to neighbors. Her older son helps her to raise the livestock and look after them.
She wants to expand her business and improve the living conditions of her family. She applied for a 1,500-AZN loan in order to purchase two calves, one milking cow, and fodder. This will be her second loan, and she has 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.