Karim, age 49, breeds cattle and sells them directly from his home to local butchers for meat purposes. He has more than 10 years of experience in this field, thanks to his father who taught him well how to look after cattle. He is also a taxi driver, but orders for this service are very rare. Karim and his wife have two children.
Karim usually buys calves, raises and fattens them over a period of five to six months, and resells them for a more profitable price at the local livestock bazaar. This activity brings him 300 AZN income per month. The local people use beef in many everyday national dishes, such as as pilau and dolma, always served with yogurt sauce. Karim's son helps him in his work and is learning how to look after the livestock.
This business provides the main financial income in his family, but at present it is not enough to cover the basic needs of his beloved children. Karim has therefore applied for a loan in the amount of 1,500 AZN in order to purchase four cattle. This will be his second loan and he has a good 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.