Shukufa is a 57-year-old married woman with five children. Shukufa has been breeding cattle and cows for the past ten years. She and her husband live on a pension, which is too small. When they had jobs, they had enough salary, and breeding cows was not primarily the source of income. However, after retirement, living got harder, and now, breeding cattle and cows have become primarily the source of income in her family.
Shukufa usually buys small calves, raises and fattens them for 5-6 months, then resells for more profitable prices in the livestock bazaar. Her monthly income is 120 AZN and this business 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. Shukufa also keeps milking cows for personal use and for selling to neighbors.
She wants to expand her business and improve life conditions of her family. She applied for a 600 AZN loan to purchase one milking cow and fodder (feed). This will be her fourth loan and AqroInvest trust her.
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.