Salman is 43 years old, married, and lives with his family in an internally displaced person (IDP) settlement, as he is an IDP. Salman grows seasonal fruits and vegetables such as corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries. He has two years of experience, and despite the short period of being in this business, he gained respect from local vendors because he produces good organic crops without chemical fertilizers.
People use fresh vegetables every day and consider them healthy. Many national dishes are made of vegetables, like pilau [rice cooked in a seasoned broth with vegetables or meat] and dolma [stuffed vegetables]. Fresh fruits serve every table in Azerbaijan families and are also used to make fresh punch.
Salman sells his crop from his yard and sometimes takes them to the local bazaar. His monthly income is 120 AZN. He would like to purchase more seeds and fertilizers to improve the quality of his crops, increase his sales, and expand his business. For this purpose he applied for 1,900 AZN. This will be his second loan and he has a positive client 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.