Sarana is a 39-year-old widow, with one son. She is an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and lives in an IDP Settlement. She is a farmer, raising seasonal fruits and vegetables. She has about 10 years of experience in this field, which makes her an experienced and skilled person with these crops.
Sarana usually sells her crop in the central bazaar. People use fresh vegetables everyday and consider them healthy. Many national dishes are made of vegetables, like pilau and dolma. Fresh fruits serve every table in Azerbaijan households and also make fresh punch. Sarana's monthly income is 80 AZN. Raising crops takes a lot of strength and working in the open air, which is very hard for women. That why her son helps Sarana.
She needs additional capital to invest in seeds and fertilizers. This will allow her to improve the quality of products she raises and increase her monthly sales. For this purpose, she applied for a loan of 1,000 AZN. This will be her third loan, and she has a good repayment 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.