Tofiq is a 42-year-old man. He is married with three children. He is a butcher and owns a butcher shop. He has 10 years of experience in this field. He has one assistant and rents this shop to sell meat. He usually sells beef and mutton, but sometimes chicken. He starts his business at 6 a.m. to buy cattle and sheep in the central livestock bazaar, and then he prepares the meat for sale.
Fresh meat is very popular in Azerbaijan, and people use it in everyday dishes. Many famous dishes, like dolma and pilav, are made of meat. His business is flourishing, and his monthly income is 400 AZN. He says that the key to success is to follow the needs of your customers and provide them with the best service and best meat pieces to keep them satisfied.
The main challenge in his business is that there is not enough fresh meat to meet the demands of his customers. He applied for 2,000 AZN to improve the situation and increase his profit.
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.