Rauf, age 34, has been raising livestock for the past seven years. He usually buys calves, raises and fattens them, and sells them at a profitable price. Selling meat is a worthwhile business because meat is an essential staple among the local people, who use it in many everyday dishes like dolma and pilov.
Rauf is a very kind and friendly young man who is unmarried and living with his parents. His monthly income is 350 AZN, which represents the sole financial income for the family. He reports that it is very difficult to cover the needs of the family with such a small income. Looking after the animals is also difficult, requiring that he spend most of his time outside. The economic climate in the region is one of austerity, but Rauf is a very positive man and his father supports and helps him a great deal.
Rauf has applied for a loan in the amount of 2,000 AZN, with which he will buy two milk cows and three calves. 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.