Ilham is 36 years old and is a very kind and active man. He is married and has two children. He has raised sheep for the last 8 years. He sells them for mutton, which is very popular among the local people. Many popular dishes like dolma and pilov are made of mutton. People consider it very healthy and digestible.
Ilham usually buys small lambs, raises and fattens them and sells them for a profitable price. His monthly income is 240 AZN and this is the only source of financial income for his family. Keeping his family and covering the needs of children is a very hard job. Also looking after the animals is much harder and requires spending a lot of time outside. The climate in the region is harsh, bur Ilham is a very positive man and hopes to earn enough to provide a better life for his beloved children.
Ilham applied for a 1800 AZN loan to purchase 20 sheep to cover market demand. As summer is very close, it is a good time to fatten the lambs and sell them for a profitable price for wedding parties, which are popular during this season.
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.