For the past eight years, Ilhame M. has operated a business of selling dresses that are specifically intended for wedding and engagement ceremonies. She rents a place in the central bazaar of Imihsli city. Her monthly income ranges from about $375 to $625 and she would like to increase it. She also wants to be able to cover the demands of her many customers. A hard-working mother, Ilhame has successfully grown her business, inspired by her goal to establish a stable income for her family.
Currently, Ilhame is seeking a loan of 1,000 AZN to enlarge her variety of goods for sale. With the increased profits, she hopes to continue supporting her child's education. She believes that one day she will have her own shop.
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.