Zeynab M. is a 57-year-old married woman with two children. For the past four years she has rented a store in the local market where she sells different kinds of food. She began her business to keep herself busy and active when her husband could not find a job. Her salary as a nurse was not enough to provide for even the basic needs of her children, and so now her small business is the main source of family income.
Zeynab works from 8am until 10pm, and her friendly and polite approach has earned her a large clientele. Now she would like to purchase more goods so that she can increase the range of products on offer. In this way she will be able to provide for her children's needs and pay their school fees. Zeynab promises to repay her loan within 15 months and thanks everybody who decides to support her.
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.