Balakhan is a 55-year-old man, widowed with one son. He breeds cows and cattle and sells milk and milk products, as well as cattle for meat purposes to local butchers. There are about ten head in his herd. Balakhan has 20 years of experience in this field, and the reason that pushed him to start his own business was a very low pension.
Balakhan usually buys small cattle, raises and fattens them in 5-6 months, and resells them for a more profitable price in the local livestock bazaar. Milk and yoghurt he sells to the neighbors. Milk and meat-selling brings 170 AZN in income per month. Milk and yoghurt, as well as beef and mutton, 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 as very healthy and are also present in everyday life.
This is the only financial income in his family and is not enough to cover the basic needs of his beloved son. Balakhan applied for 1,500 AZN to purchase three cattle, two milking cows and fodder. 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.