Nariman R. is a 33-year-old single man. He lives in the southern Azerbaijani town of Imishli. He has seven years of experience; when he started selling goods in his store he was only 26. In the beginning, he sold only biscuits and candies. As soon as he found success, he borrowed $2,300 and purchased goods such as sugar, flour, salt, rice and other goods. Nariman is applying for a $1,200 loan to purchase more beverages and begin selling them, because they are in high demand.
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.