Shahla is a 48-year-old woman from Sabirabad. She is married and lives with her two sons. She asked Kiva partner Aqroinvest for a loan to buy new refrigerators and electrical heaters for resale. She is a teacher by profession, but after her husband's death seven years ago, she decided to open an appliance store to support her family's needs. This is not her first loan from Aqroinvest. Shahla is a very honest client and has a good client history. She hopes to further grow her store and to increase her income.
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.