Vasif N. is 24 years old and earns income selling women's clothes in the center bazaar of Imishli region. He started his business in 2002 and, since then, has gained respect among local women because of his knowledge of the clients' needs, as well as the discounts that he often offers. Clothes in Vasif's store sell so quickly that sometimes he has to temporarily close it, because there is nothing left to sell. Vasif's income is just enough to cover his family's needs, but not enough to expand his business. Therefore, Vasif is asking for a loan of US$1,000 which he will use to purchase additional clothes.
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.