Zeynab, 41, is a widow who sells fruits, such as pears, oranges, apples, pomegranates and bananas. She started a private business when her husband passed away and she was left alone with two children. Zeynab has five years of experience in this field and has gained the necessary skills and knowledge required for her business.
Fruits are very popular among Azerbaijan people and in high demand during the year. People like to eat fresh fruit and this is one of the main desserts served to guests. As Zeynab's shop is located in the central bazaar, people always pass it and come to buy fresh fruit. Her monthly income from this business is 300 Azerbaijani manats (AZN). Her father helps her to sell the fruit.
Zeynab wants to expand her business as her amount of products is not enough to cover the high demand. She would like to purchase more fruits and vegetables and increase her turnover, thus improving her family's lives. For this purpose, she has applied for a 1,500 AZN loan. This will be her second loan and she 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.