Shalala is a 23-year-old, married woman, who is raising one son. She breeds cows and cattle, and she sells dairy products, and sells cattle for meat purposes to local butchers. Shalala has five years of experience in this field, thanks to her father, who taught her the best ways to look after cattle.
Shalala usually buys small calves, raises and fattens them for five to six months, and then resells them for a profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. Milk and yoghurt she sells to the neighbors. She earns 80 AZN income per month, from selling dairy products and meat.
Milk and yoghurt, as well as meat, are very popular products in Azerbaijan. People use meat in everyday national dishes, such as pilau and dolma, and always use yoghurt sauce. Milk products are considered very healthy and are also present in everyday life.
Shalala applied for 1000 AZN to purchase one milking cow and fodder.
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.