Gulana is a 23-year-old woman, married, with two children. She is an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and lives with her family in an IDP settlement. She is a farmer, raising seasonal fruits and vegetables. She has about five years of experience in this field, which makes her experienced and skilled. She gets financial support from the government of 50 AZN per month.
Gulana usually sells her crop in the central bazaar. People use fresh vegetables every day and consider them healthy; many national dishes are made from vegetables, like pilau and dolma. Fresh fruits serve every table in Azerbaijan households and also make fresh punch. Gulana's monthly income is 100 AZN. Raising crops takes a lot of strength and working in the open air, which is very hard for women. That why her husband helps Gulana.
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 1500 AZN, and this will be her third loan.
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.